NPfIT officials may pay out £100m to BT for extra NHS IT support

Health officials are considering paying at least £100m for BT to take over eight NHS sites from Fujitsu once Fujitsu leaves the £12.7bn National Programme for IT.

Health officials are considering paying at least £100m for BT to take over eight NHS sites from Fujitsu once Fujitsu leaves the £12.7bn National Programme for IT [NPfIT].

The figure - for two years of support and development of the Cerner Millennium patient administration system - has taken some in the NHS by surprise. One view in the NHS is that support of the sites should cost a total of about £8m to £10m a year, though this figure may not include future improvement of the software to meet NPfIT standards.

Before the advent of the NPfIT, the typical cost of supporting a trust’s installation of a patient administration system was between £500,000 and £1.5m a year – though these were not specified to same standards as the national programme.

Fujitsu has installed the Cerner Millennium system - a basic version known as R0 - at eight health communities in the south of England. But Fujitsu is leaving the NPfIT as its £1bn contract was terminated after the failure of talks on a revised contract.

BT is expected to take over the Fujitsu sites because BT is already supplying the Cerner Millennium system in London as the capital’s NPfIT local service provider – though the Cerner software used in the south and in London are not the same.

Talks between BT and NHS Connecting for Health, which runs part of the national programme, have continued since Fujitsu’s departure was announced in May 2008. Computer Weekly understands that the sticking point is price. Health officials want BT to take over the Fujitsu sites because it provides continuity and ensures that the trusts involved remain part of the NPfIT.

Health officials hope to have a deal with BT agreed by the end of this month, though it would be subject to approval by the Treasury, the Department of Health, and the NPfIT Local Ownership Programme [NLOP] teams, which could cause a further delay.

Fujitsu is providing temporary support to its live sites in the south until a six-month transitional agreement expires on 28 November 2008.

A spokesman for NHS Connecting for Health said:

"Discussions are taking place around the transfer of live services to a replacement supplier. During the transition, Fujitsu will continue to maintain all live services and manage an orderly transfer of service. The options for alternative arrangements are currently being assessed between the Department, the strategic health authorities and NHS Connecting for Health."

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