Department of Health considers scrapping CSC contract for NHS records

The future of one of the main NHS National Programme for IT deals is increasingly uncertain

The Department of Health (DH) is considering scrapping its £3bn Lorenzo patient records software contract with CSC.

The iSoft Lorenzo Care Records Service was one of the main products within the £12bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT). The implementation was due to be rolled out this week at Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, but will now not happen until mid-2011- the latest in a series of missed milestones.

The DH has formally notified CSC that it has breached its contract by missing a key milestone and is considering whether to terminate the contract.

A spokesman from the DH told E-health Insider, "We can confirm that the Department of Health is considering the options available under the current contract, including termination."

Anthony Miller, co-founder of analyst TechMarketView, believes CSC is clearly struggling with its contract.

"I don't understand how CSC can make a viable financial proposition," he said. "CSC is pouring money into the NHS programme, with miniscule returns."

According to Miller, CSC invested a further $69m in the contract in the third quarter of 2010, for which it achieved $18m revenue, and in the previous quarter it invested $120m for $23m return.

"It's unclear from the Department of Health where this will lead. I'm not sure they now know what they want out of this programme. And does Lorenzo fit into the new NHS? I don't think this will be quickly resolved," he said.

"CSC will not be able to make any money as the goalposts keep changing; not only that, but the game keeps changing. We're not even playing football anymore."

The Department of Health decided last year in effect to scrap the centralised NPfIT and allow NHS organisations greater freedom to make their own IT decisions, raising question marks over the multibillion-pound NPfIT contracts signed with CSC and BT.

Read more on IT strategy