The NHS has spent £9.7 million on IT contract legal advice for its highly-troubled national IT programme, during a two year period when it attempted to renegotiate the contracts.
The figures were revealed in a written submission from the Department of Health to the Public Accounts Committee. The PAC today published a report on reforms in the NHS.
In the financial year from 2009, the NHS spent £6.3 million on “legal consultancy advice”. During the first nine months of the following year, it spent a further £3.4 million. During those periods, the Department of Health was striving to renegotiate contracts with IT suppliers.
It was previously revealed that in the seven years to March 2009, the NHS spent a further £39 million on lawyers for the programme.
One of two lead suppliers on the programme, BT, delivers IT systems to NHS trusts in London and other parts of southern England. It saw its contract value cut marginally from £1.1 billion to £1 billion last year, in exchange for delivering systems to around half as many London trusts and cutting deployments elsewhere.
Meanwhile, complex discussions are ongoing with CSC, which has a £3.2 billion contract to deliver IT systems to northern and central England. Last week, CSC was dropped by a key NHS trust which said it did not have confidence in the supplier. This followed the Department of Health issuing it with a breach of contract notice in February, following repeatedly missed deadlines.
The NHS is also reportedly in protracted legal discussions with Fujitsu, which quit the programme in 2008 after it and the NHS failed to agree on the cost of localising systems. Fujitsu had had a £709 million contract for NHS systems in southern England. Work in those areas is now carried out by BT.
In response to queries on how the legal spending was allocated, the Department of Health did not give any detail.