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Staff shortfall raises CSC deal issues

Tony Collins
The NHS has provided services supplier CSC with only a handful of employees to work on the national programme for IT. This is despite the NHS' contractual commitment to provide dozens of health service staff to the supplier.

The shortfall highlights the problems faced by NHS organisations and local service providers in providing staff for the modernisation of the NHS.

The company could claim up to £70,000 from the NHS for every employee not provided, but a CSCspokesman said, "It is CSC's normal business practice to avoid any compensation charges with customers where possible."

The spokesman added a "Managed Authority Employees Scheme" was incorporated into the contract by the NHS. The CSC Alliance has two NHS staff working full-time and one part-time on the scheme. "We are increasing the flexibility of the roles to be filled," said the spokesman.

Meanwhile, NHS IT executives in CSC's area said they would rather pay compensation than lose key staff to the supplier. They also said they would be concerned if CSC waived the right to claim compensation.

They see any decision by CSC not to invoke a legitimate claim as reducing the bargaining strength of the NHS should suppliers fail to meet contractual commitments. One IT director said that if suppliers do not make justified claims against the NHS, they will be storing a "get out of jail free card" for future use.

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