NPfIT in the south - interim CIO outlines interim plan

John-Jo Campbell, Interim CIO for the NHS South Central Strategic Health Authority, has outlined the tentative arrangements for the transfer of work from Fujitsu, the outgoing local service provider in the south of England under the NHS’s National Programme for IT.

He said there is no formal obligation on Fujitsu but it is operating as if the contract was still in place to support the live services.

The Department of Health issued a termination notice to Fujitsu on 28 May 2008, which was the start date of a six-month transitional period which runs until 28 November 2008. No formal contract to cover the transitional period was in place but one was being negotiated. It’s unclear whether a deal has been agreed.

The six-month period should allow alternative arrangements to be put in place, probably a deal with BT, the local service provider for London, to take over the eight NHS trust sites that have gone live with the Cerner Millennium Care Records Service from Fujitsu.

[It’s understood that a deal with BT is not proving easy to negotiate so it’s conceivable that no alternative arrangements will be in place by 28 November.]

Campbell says that an “exit team” has been formed, comprising the CIO from each of the three strategic health authorities in the south of England: South Central, South West and South-East Coast. The team is co-ordinated by John Rahtz and who is accountable to South Central SHA Chief executive as Senior Responsible Owner of the Southern Programme for IT.

The first priority is the maintenance of existing services to the sites where R0 of the Millennium system has gone live, at:

Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust
Buckinghamshire PCT
Hampshire Partnership NHS Trust
Hampshire PCT
Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Milton Keynes PCT
Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust
Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust

Under its £1bn contract, Fujitsu was responsible for NHS Care Record Services,  Picture Archiving & Communications and Radiology Information services, and other services  such as child health systems. One aim in the short term is for all eight NHS sites to be taken to a common version of the R0 software.

Meanwhile the R1 NHS Care Record Deployment Programme across NHS South
Central has been suspended.

At a workshop in July to decide the next steps for the national programme in the south, there was a consensus among representatives of NHS organisations in the south central area that the “aims from the National Programme must be delivered”, said Campbell. But there needs to be more clarity on the process and timescales.

NHS South West Strategic Health Authority said the work that Fujitsu has done providing key information services to NHS organisations in the South West is acknowledged and its “commitment to providing a smooth transition to new arrangements is recognised”.

Comment:

Six years since the official launch of the National Programme for IT the future of informatics for most NHS trusts seems more uncertain than before the programme was announced. IT executives in some NHS trusts are making their own arrangements, sometimes in conjunction with other NHS organisations. Perhaps with some optimism, they are calling them “interim” arrangements. 

Not that the suppliers see problems as anything more than teething. BT told the US Securities and Exchange Commission on 28 May 2008:  

“In the UK the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in the NHS, for example, is the world’s largest civilian IT project. We are making good progress in the delivery of our three contracts and helping the NHS to provide better, safer care by delivering computer systems and services which improve the way patient information is stored and accessed. 

“In London, where we are working with the NHS to modernise IT systems and services across the capital, we installed a further 49 systems during 2008 – bringing the total to 189. Additionally, 50 trusts in London will benefit from significantly reduced call charges, having signed up to connect their voice networks to N3, the national broadband network that we have rolled out as part of the NPfIT.  

“On the Spine – the secure database and messaging system BT has built and is managing for the NHS – the first patient summary care records have been created. These records contain potentially life-saving information such as current medications, allergies and previous bad reactions to medicines.”

So things are not so bad after all?

Links:

Fujitsu seeks £700m over failed IT contract – IT Projects blog – Sept 2008

Barts and The London NHS Trust – we estimated impact of NPfIT go-live – Computer Weekly Sept 2008

Minister says Fujitsu’s departure is a positive step for the NPfIT

Fujistu could cut 700 jobs after quitting NPfIT – Computer Weekly – June 2008

Fujitsu termination slow IT implementation – Hospital IT Europe website – June 2008

Major problems “not inevitable” after major change – IT Projects blog September 2008 

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