The NHS and trade body Intellect have both dismissed suggestions that key suppliers to the health service's £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT) might seek contract changes or compensation when NHS IT chief Richard Granger leaves.
Granger is to quit his post as director general of NHS Connecting for Health, which runs NPfIT, by the end of the year.
The combative NHS IT chief claimed in an interview with the Financial Times that there was a “significant” risk of lead NPfIT suppliers CSC, Fujitsu and BT seeking contract changes or compensation because his departure would amount to a variation on their contracts.
But a Connecting for Health spokesperson poured cold water on the idea. “Contractors cannot make a claim on the basis that Richard Granger has resigned,” he said.
He added: “We are currently in a transitional period. An announcement about the identification of a successor to Richard Granger and also transitional arrangements will be made by the Department of Health Shortly.”
Eddy Peers, vice-chair of the healthcare group at IT suppliers’ body Intellect, said: “I’m surprised at the interpretation that a contract of that magnitude would be tied to a person. I would be extremely surprised if it happened.”
He added: “For the vast majority of major contracts, key people will change.”
Peers said there had been “a lot of renegotiation” of the NPfIT contracts recently – a move linked to the devolution of the programme’s ownership to the NHS’s strategic health authorities as some of the focus of NPfIT shifts towards implementing its systems in local hospitals.
“Contractual arrangements and the way implementation takes place, responsibility and so on have been reframed on the ground in the light of experience, as you would expect in a major project,” he said.
Peers noted that there was “a lot of excitement in the supplier marketplace” about Granger’s departure and the possibility of change “because a lot of suppliers have been put onto the margin” by the NPfIT contracts, which are structured around the three lead suppliers.
But he said: “I don’t think there’s going to be big changes – there may be some shifts of emphasis."
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