BT launches proceedings against Scotland's NHS over SWAN project

Telecoms giant BT has launched a court case against the Scottish health service after failing to win the contract for the Scottish Wide Area Network project

NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) is being taken to court by BT after the telecoms company took issue with not winning the procurement contract for the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) project.

SWAN is a government scheme, led by the NHS, to create a shared network for all public sector organisations across the country, hoping to both save costs and improve performance.

The procurement process for the six-year project began in October 2012, and in March this year the three shortlisted bidders – Cable & Wireless together with Virgin Media Business, Capita together with Updata Infrastructure, and a single bid from BT – were invited to submit detailed specifications (ISDS).

With the contract worth a minimum of £110m, but expected to rise as more organisations sign up, the deal was hotly contested. But the Scottish government claimed the process was on track for a contract to be awarded in October and the service to be live as early as April 2014.

However, once a preferred bidder was selected – understood to be Capita and Updata – rival firm BT made a formal complaint to the Court of Session.

A spokesman from BT said: “We are naturally disappointed by this decision, particularly since the existing N3 national communications network operating across the NHS in Scotland has delivered significant benefits over many years.

“We can confirm that proceedings have been commenced with a view to the procurement being re-run and hope that this matter will be resolved shortly.”

The NSS confirmed that if the re-run was not awarded, BT would seek damages of £20m.

While the legal proceedings are taking place, the NSS is unable to continue with SWAN, and with the case not expected to come to court until January 2014, the project will be at least three months behind schedule.

When Computer Weekly asked BT on what grounds it was contesting the procurement process, the spokesman said as it was now a matter of litigation, the company had nothing further to say.

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