CSC issues robust defence of £13bn NHS IT

CSC, a lead supplier alongside BT on the £12.7 billion NHS National Programme for IT, has said it is confident about the future of the programme.

Andrew Spence, UK healthcare strategy director for CSC, told Computerworld UK that the NHS and its suppliers were “ruthlessly focused” on making sure the new electronic patient record systems worked well in trusts and improved patient safety by linking together different information.

CSC has a £3 billion contract for systems in approximately 60 percent of NHS England, with most of its coverage in the North, East and Midlands. It also provides a number of other optional systems, including document management, to various healthcare organisations.

The government is negotiating hard with suppliers, aiming to remove £600 million from programme costs. CSC said it supported the government’s plans and that it was working closely with the NHS, its largest client, to deliver a workable, useful system that would transform the handling of information in hospitals. BT has similarly always said it supports the programme.

The government is striving to seal the renegotiated deals with suppliers, drawing fire from the Conservative party which said Labour was trying to tie its hands by agreeing to contracts that have expensive cancellation clauses. The Tories have also said they would abandon centralised patient records if they won this year’s election, favouring instead records hosted by companies such as Google.

Spence acknowledged there was “a lot of talk” about the renegotiations, but declined to reveal the specific details of ongoing talks. He insisted the future for CSC in NHS was promising.

“We’re ruthlessly focused on getting things right for Morecambe Bay,” he said. “If we don’t it would hurt confidence.”

Since a new programme director, Christine Connelly, joined the Department of Health in 2008, the government began to insist on new tough delivery deadlines for patient records. Both CSC and BT were forced to deliver a workable system in a trust each by November.

CSC delivered its key system to Bury and BT to Kingston. CSC's choice of national system, iSoft Lorenzo, also has to be delivered to an acute hospital, Morecambe Bay, by the end of March - including additional functionality for accident and emergency settings.

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