NHS To Spend £2.2bn On ‘Rotten’ CSC NPfIT Work

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

The much-maligned NPfIT was canned in 2012 but CSC is still making a load of money from its Lorenzo contract

The NHS will spend an additional £1.1 billion on CSC software and services as part of the much-maligned National Programme for IT (NPfIT), meaning the IT supplier will receive £2.2 billion for a project that was canned last year.

The project is supposed to be winding down thanks to major shortcomings on the part of the IT supplier.

Under the original 2003 contract, CSC was supposed to have delivered the Lorenzo electronic patients’ records system by 2005 to 166 different NHS bodies, yet by 2011 it had only made it to 10, following contract renegotiations.

nhs logo squareThanks to manifold failures bythe NHS and CSC, the whole NPfIT initiative was scrapped in September 2012, but it was clear Lorenzo would continue to be deployed.

NPfIT nightmare

It emerged yesterday, during a Public Accounts Committee hearing on NPfIT, another £500m had been set aside by the NHS for the CSC Lorenzo contract, whilst another £100 million could be used to support as many as 22 NHS Trusts that want to run the software.

The full amount set aside for CSC’s total NPfIT work, including non-Lorenzo services, stands at £2.2 billion, £1.1 billion of which has already been paid, the PAC heard from Tim Donohoe, senior responsible owner for local service provider programmes at the NHS. Donohoe claimed the NHS had secured “a good deal for the taxpayer”.

Chair of the PAC, Margaret Hodge, said the announcement of NPfIT’s closure appeared to have been a “PR exercise”, as she described CSC as a “rotten company providing a hopeless system”.

“I call it a deck chairs on the Titanic exercise, you were shifting the way you were running it, but you were keeping all the expenditure going,” Hodge added.

Asked why the NHS had gotten itself into a position where it was cheaper to keep the CSC contract than fight it in courts, Donohoe said “we didn’t have a strong negotiating position because of the contracts”.

“We have sought over time to reduce our contractual exposure with CSC,” he added. “Options around terminating the contract… would not have offered good value for money.”

The NHS has also handed CSC £2.9 million in legal fees since it started negotiations to kill the contract in 2010.

CSC remains largely unapologetic and proud of its work, emailing TechWeekEurope the following response to yesterday’s comments: “CSC has delivered a wide range of critical systems to help the NHS reach its goal of improving patient care,” the company said.

“CSC has been a strong partner to the NHS and currently has more than 2,500 systems operating across the UK as part of the NPfIT, contributing to advances in primary care, acute care and emergency services.”

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