Some hospital executives in the South of England have put on hold plans and deployments of replacements for legacy systems during extended negotiations of a contractual “re-set” with the main IT supplier Fujitsu.
The re-negotiations of the contract have involved the Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson and Fujitsu’s parent organisation in Japan.
Several trusts have delayed plans for new systems under the NHS’s National Programme for IT [NPfIT]. Although training of staff for new systems has continued in some areas, several trusts have been unable to set dates for going-live.
Fujitsu and the NHS have been negotiating since July 2007 on a “contract re-set” to allow for changes since the deal was signed in January 2004. A Memorandum of Understanding, which allowed the NHS and Fujitsu to operate as if a revised contract were in place, expired on 31 January 2008 and the two sides have reverted to the original contract.
Talks over the reset were due to have finished in November last year. They were then expected to have been completed by the end of March but no deal has yet been signed. Computer Weekly understands that the gap between the two sides of hundreds of millions of pounds has narrowed, and there’s optimism among some NHS executives that a deal will be signed.
Sussex Health Informatics Service has reported that on the contract reset with Fujitsu the “general consensus is that there will be a positive outcome”.
Both sides are expected to compromise, the supplier by accepting lower sums of extra money, and the NHS by paying more than the original contract though not as much as some officials had feared.
Meanwhile the contract reset has hit NHS plans for new systems.
Officials working on the NPfIT had announced in 2006 that the Royal West Sussex NHS Trust, St Richard’s Hospital, would go live with an NPfIT Care Records Service in October of that year. But the trust confirmed last week that it has been unable yet to set a date for implementation, the contract reset being one of the uncertainties. The trust’s board also wants to learn from a go-live of the Cerner system at Worthing’s main hospital where it said there had been “issues concerning functionality”.
The board of the Southern Programme for IT – part of the NPfIT – has reported that the “operating plan for the delivery of the Care Record Service deployments for 2008 is currently being reviewed to take account of local deployment verification and detailed planning, and the current position on contract reset”.
The Director of Performance, Information and facilities at Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust in Kent has told to his board that “we still await clarity about a go-live date for CRS [Care Record Service]”. He added: “It will soon be 24 months since the original project kick-off and this now represents a serious issue for the Trust as it is delaying progress in a number of key areas.”
Isle of Wight Primary Care Trust has reported its plans on the Care Records Service had been postponed “due to national issues around the contract reset rather than a local problem”.
Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust board has discussed the contract reset “including the effect on funding and staffing of “working without a certain implementation date”.
Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust said in March 2008 that the “slippage in the Southern programme for IT [SPfIT] has affected our ability to operate and we are now in contingency mode …”
Fujitsu and Connecting for Health have declined to comment.
A separate update on the contract reset will be on this blog soon.