IT firm behind unworkable NHS database keeps IT deal

Ministers have agreed to give the American company responsible for the “unworkable” NHS database NPfIT almost £1 billion in health contracts, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
The National Audit Office criticised the NPfIT NHS database project for being poor value for money, patchy and long overdue.

Computer Sciences Corporation, (CSC) an American IT firm, previously had a £1.9 billion contract for the national NHS system which was scrapped by Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, last year.

The firm is understood to have threatened legal action against the Government and is now thought to have agreed to continue with up to £900 million of NHS work in return for dropping any legal action.

It will run computer systems for the NHS across the north, midlands and eastern England under the deal which is expected to be agreed in the coming days.

Ministers are expected to herald the “compromise deal” as a success which will save the taxpayer about £1 billion. However, it underlines the difficulties faced by the Coalition in extricating itself from previous contracts agreed by the last Government.

It will also add to growing allegations that despite the high profile announcement that the beleaguered national NHS database is being scrapped – it is simply being replaced by a series of similar regional systems which will perform the same function.IT firm behind unworkable NHS database keeps IT dealThe NHS database attracted widespread criticism following a series of damning official reports. Last year, the House of Commons Public Accounts committee described the programme as “unworkable”.

When he announced the “acceleration” of the dismantling of the system last year, the Health Secretary said: “Labour’s IT programme let down the NHS and wasted taxpayers’ money by imposing a top-down IT system on the local NHS, which didn’t fit their needs.

“We will be moving to an innovative new system driven by local decision-making. This is the only way to make sure we get value for money from IT systems that better meet the needs of a modernised NHS.”

Computer Sciences Corporation had previously largely written off the value of the NHS contract in its accounts, leading to a reduction in the company’s share price. Last May, David Cameron said the Government would not sign any new contracts with the firm until a review of its work on the NHS IT programme was complete.

However, the firm announced yesterday that it had entered into a non-binding letter of intent with the British Government. The letter “defines a way forward for CSC to deliver healthcare solutions and services, primarily across the North, the Midlands and east of England.”

The company’s share price rose yesterday after falling by more than a third over the past year.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “The Department of Health has secured agreement to an approach which will involve a hugely improved settlement for the NHS with CSC, the company responsible for introducing Lorenzo software in the North, Midlands and East.

“A Letter of Intent has been negotiated which makes clear that a new contract, to be signed this Spring, will ensure that the local NHS has control over whether to introduce Lorenzo. The agreement we have negotiated gives choice to Trusts about taking this software, rather than imposing the decision on NHS organisations.”


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