Powys plans to replace problematic computer system

Staff cited problems with specialist computer software as a reason for leaving Powys County Council, a meeting was heard.

At a Powys County Council cabinet meeting on Friday March 11, a proposal to leave the Welsh Community Care Information System (WCCIS) and explore the use of other software was discussed by The advisers.

WCCIS is a multi-million pound IT investment provided by the Welsh Government to fully integrate health and social care in Wales.

This is meant to mean that community nurses, mental health teams, social workers and therapists can share electronic records so they know where a patient is with their treatment.

Head of Digital Services, Diane Reynolds explained that in April 2016 Powys joined 15 other local authorities and two health boards in using WCCIS.

It cost £604,000 and annual costs are £91,000.

Ms Reynolds: “The system continued to have excessive downtime and accessibility issues, there remains a high risk for the Service Impacting Authority to perform its functions.”

Despite discussions with the supplier, Ms Reynolds said no improvement in reliability had been seen

She added that last year an independent review was commissioned which recommended Powys seek a replacement system.

Head of Legal and Democratic Services, Clive Pinney explained that Bridgend County Borough Council is the primary WCCIS contract holder.

To exit the contract, Powys would have to do so through “fault” and explain what the issues were and the work to try to fix them,

Mr Pinney said: ‘There have been problems for a number of years, and it’s no better than two years ago.’

Chair of the Health and Care Review Committee, Cllr Amanda Jenner feared the council would get into a lengthy legal battle to exit the WCCIS contract even though it had a “clear case”.

Cllr Jenner said: ‘My advice is to weigh the potential legal costs and fully prepare a system by the end of March 2023 to avoid all of this.

“I want to point out that there is only one year left on the contract.”

Mr Pinney stressed there was a possibility that the contract could be extended for another four years and that if that happened Powys would also be part of the extension unless it ‘ends at fault’.

Children’s social services portfolio holder, Cllr Rachel Powell, said: “We have had social workers leave because of this, I’m relieved we’ve gotten to the stage where we’re looking for a different approach.

“We have to look at all the options.”

Adult Social Care Cllr Myfanwy Alexander said: ‘It’s not just about escaping a bad system, it’s about creating a good system for the future with our service users at its heart.

Councilors voted unanimously:

Note the requirement for a replacement.

Enable digital transformation to find an effective replacement system for WCCIS.

And to set aside £1.2million in 2023/24 for further investigation.

Gordon K. Morehouse