The Department of Health has withheld information from the Public Accounts Committee on an advance payment to CSC of £200m.
Tory MP Richard Bacon has written to the NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson warning that a failure to disclose information to the Public Accounts Committee is a ”very serious matter”.
Bacon, a long-standing member of the Public Accounts Committee, is concerned that the
Department of Health did not mention the advance payment at a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee on the NPfIT detailed care records systems on 23 May 2011; and the £200m payment wasn’t mentioned in the Department’s subsequent memo to the committee.
Says Bacon in his letter:
“I understand that the advance payment of £200m to CSC was made in April 2011 but the Department of Health’s memo of 7 June 2011 doesn’t mention it.
“The failure to disclose to the PAC an advance payment of £200m is a very serious matter. The fact that the payment appears to have happened after 31 March 2011 is scarcely the point.
CSC declared the £200m advance payment in regulatory announcement
CSC has told regulatory authorities in the US that on 1 April 2011, pursuant to the NPfIT contract, the “NHS made an advance payment to the Company of £200 million ($320 million) related to the forecasted charges expected by the Company during fiscal year 2012€³.
E-Health Insider reported the payment last month.
It appears that the Department decided to give the committee details of advance payments to CSC up until 31 March 2011. The undisclosed £200m payment to CSC was made the next day, 1 April.
As the Department of Health wrote to the committee on 7 June there is no clear reason for its choice of 31 March as the cut-off date for informing MPs of advance payments to CSC.
Sir David Nicholson is the overall senior responsible owner of the NHS National Programme for IT.
It would not be the first time the Department has withheld the latest information on the NPfIT from what it regards as outsiders, such as Parliament and the media.
Bacon's letter in full is here.