NHS CIO warns CSC “we cannot wait forever”
The FT reports today that CSC, the biggest single supplier to the £12bn NHS IT programme, is “on the brink of being fired from a key part of its contract after failing to meet a deadline to install systems at hospitals in the north-west”.
The newspaper says that NPfIT local service providers CSC and BT had each been given a deadline to get new systems running smoothly in a big, acute, hospital, with the Department of Health warning last year that it would “look at alternative approaches” if that failed to happen.
Since then BT has installed Cerner’s Millennium a system at Kingston Hospital to the satisfaction of the Department of Health. Christine Connelly, the NHS’s CIO, said that her department now needs to go through a due process under its contract with CSC which could yet see a new deadline set and met.
But she told the FT that if progress is not made, the Department of Health has the option of cancelling CSC’s contract to install the systems in acute hospitals – which is worth about £1bn. Connelly could end up allowing hospitals to choose from other suppliers.
Connelly said that CSC has to be given time, under its contract, to propose a fresh deadline fordeployment at Morecambe Bay. The Department of Health will then assess the credibility of the new deadline and decide whether to agree it. “We have to walk through this step by step,” Connelly told the FT.
“In a contract as large and complex as this wecannot just set a deadline and say that’s it. We have to act responsiblyand not expose the department and the taxpayer to risk.”
But,she added, “we cannot wait for ever”.
BT has signed a memorandum of understanding, whichthe Department of Health said would save the NHS £112m.
The FT quoted Connelly as saying: “As part of the deal, BT is now signedup to install much fewer fullsystems in London, with about half the hospitals likely to add clinicalsystems to their existing IT arrangements, rather than replacingeverything.”
If the Department of Health cancels CSC’s contract to deliver Lorenzo to acute trusts, the supplier could lose tens of millions of pounds in payments that are predicated on a successful go-live at Morecambe Bay.
On the other hand, CSC has done well from supplying “interim” iSoft and other systems to the NHS. If fired from supplying acute trusts, CSC could conceivably carry on supplying systems to the NHS without the further risks to its finances and reputation from having to supply acute trusts with Lorenzo.
The memorandum of understanding signed with BT, as I mentioned on the BBC File on 4 programme on Government IT projects last month, reduces BT’s financial commitment by much more than the taxpayer saves on the supplier’s contract. Should the NHS – and taxpayers – be grateful that an MoU has not yet been signed with CSC?
Is NPfIT “in crisis” because CSC misses deadline at Morecambe Bay? – IT Projects Blog