Key bidder pulls out of £2.3bn NHS programme

US firm Lockheed Martin has pulled out from bidding to supply and support health systems for the Department of Health’s £2.3bn...

US firm Lockheed Martin has pulled out from bidding to supply and support health systems for the Department of Health’s £2.3bn national programme for IT.

The unexpected withdrawal leaves only two suppliers, IBM and BT, in the competition to become a national service provider and a local service provider for the flagship region of London.

Lockheed’s withdrawal from bidding for the two crucial contracts for which it had been shortlisted is a serious blow to the department, which has been keen to encourage bids from as many international suppliers as possible.

Lockheed had been in the running to provide a national “data spine” of patient records. Its withdrawal came suddenly, less than 24 hours before it was due to demonstrate systems to clinicians, IT specialists and NHS executives in London.

The capital is one of five regions in England where a local service provider will be chosen to take over existing equipment and provide new systems.

The announcement of the decision to withdraw from the London competition was revealed within the NHS in a confidential memo, seen last week by Computer Weekly.

Signed on behalf of Duncan Selbie, chief executive of the South East London Strategic Health Authority and chairman of London ICT Board, the memo said, “I have just received the news that Lockheed Martin [is] no longer participating in the London cluster competition and therefore will not be demonstrating [its] solution to us tomorrow. 

“I am writing this mail to you urgently and would ask that you keep this mail in confidence.”

The first major contracts under the national programme for IT are due to be awarded by

31 October and will include the London region. For several months IBM has been tipped as the favoured supplier for London. 

A spokesman for the National Programme for IT said, “We value the efforts [Lockheed has] made and the innovation [it has] brought to the competition up to the point of [its] withdrawal.”

A Lockheed spokesman confirmed that it had withdrawn from the competition but declined to comment further.

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