Plans to replace legacy NHS systems put on hold

Hospital executives have put plans to replace legacy systems on hold after protracted negotiations between the NHS and Fujitsu, its main IT supplier in southern England.

Hospital executives have put plans to replace legacy systems on hold after protracted negotiations between the NHS and Fujitsu, its main IT supplier in southern England.

Computer Weekly has learnt that several trusts have delayed plans for new systems under the NHS's National Programme for IT (NPfIT). Although training of staff in the systems has continued in some areas, some trusts have been unable to set go-live dates.

Fujitsu and the NHS have been negotiating for more than nine months on a "contract reset" to allow for changes in the NPfIT since the 10-year, £896m 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, and the two sides have reverted to the original deal.

The renegotiation of parts of the contract has involved secretary of state for health Alan Johnson and Fujitsu's parent organisation in Japan.

Talks on the reset were due to finish last November. They were then expected to be complete by the end of March, but there is still no word on whether a deal has been agreed.

Officials working on the NPfIT had announced in 2006 that St Richard's Hospital in West Sussex would go live with an NPfIT care records service in October of that year. But the Royal West Sussex NHS trust confirmed last week that it had been unable to set a date for implementation. The contract reset was one of the uncertainties.

The trust's board also wants to learn from a go-live of the Cerner Millennium care records service at Worthing 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 being reviewed to take account of local deployment verification and detailed planning, and the current position on contract reset."

NHS Connecting for Health, which runs part of the NPfIT, and Fujitsu declined to comment on the contract reset.

Read more on the NHS on Tony Collins' IT projects blog.

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