New NHS BT deal in London needs close scrutiny

John Cruickshank, a specialist with a long track record working in health IT, writes for 2020health, which describes itself as a centre-right web-based think-tank for health and technology.

Cruickshank was the author of “Fixing NHS IT – an Action Plan for a New Government” which was published on 22 March 2010. It had recommendations for rescuing the NPfIT.

Now Cruickshank has given his reaction to the contract re-negotiations which have been settled with BT, the NPfIT local service provider for London. The deal is good for BT but not particularly so for taxpayers or the NHS.

NHS Connecting for Health has negotiated to take £112m off BT’s £1bn LSP contract – about 12% – but has let BT off its contractual obligation to deliver the main IT systems to all of the NHS trusts in London. It need deliver to only half of them.    

Cruickshank says:

“Although the contract reset with BT can be declared a success, its scope will only cover one half of the London acute trusts. A careful review of the small print is needed to assess whether it is value for money.”

These are his comments in full:

“In the light of today’s announcements by the Department of Health about the failure to agree contract reset terms with one of its two Local Service Providers (LSPs), the future of the NHS care records service is again brought into question…  

“The Department of Health had been seeking to agree new contracts with its two LSPs, CSC and BT, with a view to gaining agreement by 31 March 2010. 

“While agreement has been reached in NHS London with BT, this has not been achieved in NHS North Midlands and East (NME) with CSC.  This is apparently due to their failure to deploy its Lorenzo solution to the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust within the specified deadline.
 
“2020health’s recent study, ‘Fixing NHS IT – an Action Plan for a New Government’ put forward a detailed rescue plan for NHS IT, with 30 detailed recommendations for action, all to be executed within 12 months of a new government taking office. 

“In particular, the report set out a course of action with the Local Service Providers, including applying ten tests that a new Government should apply in its first three months and the follow-up steps needed.

“Although the contract reset with BT can be declared a success, its scope will only cover one half of the London acute trusts. A careful review of the small print is needed to assess whether it is value for money.

“In the case of the CSC contract position, the absence of a worked-up NHS contingency plan is worrying.  In our report, we set out how to deconstruct the existing arrangements safely, keeping the parts that work well, in primary and community care.  

“However, acute hospitals in NME need a proper choice of alternate suppliers to fit their own needs, while meeting clear interoperability standards.  A new Government would need to scrutinise carefully the contingency plans for workability, given the fall-out from the Fujitsu termination in the South two years ago…

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Fixing NHS IT – John Cruickshank

Minister to sew NPfIT deals with CSC and BT before general election? – IT Projects Blog

Realigning NHS IT could save £1bn says 2020health – BJHC

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