THE flawed computer booking system causing chaos at the Royal Berkshire Hospitals Trust has plunged it into a multi-million pound financial crisis. The system is used to book appointments at the Bracknell Clinic and Royal Berkshire Hospital.

Are you a patient at the Bracknell Clinic or RBH and been affected by the computer problems? Please comment below. The �30m system, launched in June, is meant to retrieve patient details in seconds, taking a few moments to link them to the availability of surgeons, beds or therapies. But frustrated staff, from consultants to nurses and admin clerks, are taking up to 15 minutes to navigate their way through multiple screens to book routine appointments, leading to severe backlogs on wards and outpatient clinics.

The system also regularly crashes, causing chaos, and was out of action again on Tuesday this week, with staff forced to retrieve paper records and hand write appointments in diaries.

As well as handling all appointments for the RBH, the system also does so for the Bracknell Clinic in Brants Bridge, which provides chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer patients and dialysis for people with kidney problems.

Hospital trust chief executive Ed Donald has admitted to stunned governors that the Cerner Millennium Electronic Patient Records System (EPR) will cost an extra �3.7m in unbudgeted staffing costs.

At this month's Council of Governors meeting, Mr Donald read from a prepared brief, which said: "The level of issues the trust faces having implemented Cerner Millennium is a significant drain on management capacity, despite robust risk mitigation plans."

He continued: "This has a significant impact on the trust's financial performance and cash position, being the key driver between a surplus and forecasted deficit."

This year's implementation costs for the system are forecast to rise to �6.2m - smashing the trust's �2.5m Cerner budget - because of the necessity of "significant data correction" each month and extra admin staff.

Cerner would not address the computer system's faults but spokesman Iain Wood stressed the future running costs of the project represent less than 1% of the trust's total turnover and added: "This is a complex change management process and we are working closely with the trust to address its IT needs."

No-one from the hospital trust was prepared to comment at this stage.

If you have been affected, please comment below