BT is to resume the roll out of Cerner "Millennium" systems in London after go-lives were halted last October because of serious problems at the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust and at Barts and The London NHS Trust.
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The resumption of installations in London under the NHS's National Programme for IT [NPfIT] is because officials at the Royal Free believe that the systems installed by BT in June last year have begun to stabilise.
BT's executives will be relieved at the resumed roll outs, as the company's financial year-end is approaching. The Department of Health's payments to BT are linked to deployments, after the systems have been certified by NHS trusts as fit for purpose.
BT's global services division has announced a write-off of £340m and the possibility of hundreds of millions more, in part because of extra costs and delays in payments on the company's £1bn contract as the local service provider for London.
An indefinite delay in deployments in London could have hit confidence in the company which has seen its share price fall by about half in the past year.
The strengthening of the relationship between BT and Whitehall officials - at a time when the two sides are renegotiating parts of the NPfIT contract - may be a sign the government is willing to be generous to the company rather than risk its quitting the national programme.
Accenture has already left, Fujitsu is leaving and if BT quits that would leave a single local service provider, CSC. In this event, the NPfIT could be perceived world-wide as a failure.
The Department of Health's NHS Connecting for Health, which is involved in talks with BT, declined to comment on whether it has shifted in its tough stance against the supplier.
The resumed roll outs mean that London trusts can prepare in earnest for go-live with a version of Cerner which has been adapted for use in the capital. The Royal Free, Barnet and Chase Farm, Queen Mary's Sidcup, and Barts and The London NHS Trust have already gone live with the London Configuration version of Cerner. Only the Royal Free has LC1 which uses smartcards.
Next in line for going live with Cerner in the London area are Kingston Hospital NHS Trust, Queen Mary's Hospital, Roehampton, St George's Healthcare NHS Trust, and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
A spokeswoman for the London Programme for IT, part of the NPfIT, said, "The NHS in London has renewed its commitment to continue to implement Cerner Millennium within acute trusts as part of the roll out across the capital of electronic care records to deliver improved patient care
"Several upgrades have been made to the Cerner Millennium London Configuration 1 software currently being used by the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust to streamline and enhance the system for users.
"In addition to this, improvements are also being made at the trusts using the LC0 version of Cerner Millennium - Barnet and Chase Farm, Queen Mary's Sidcup and Barts and The London
"Due to the good progress made with the improvement programme and greater confidence in the functionality and stability of the system, the London Acute Programme Board has recommended that the implementation of Cerner Millennium should continue in London."
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