BT steps aside to allow NHS Scotland to award £110m network contract

NHS Scotland can now award the £110 million Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) to its preferred bidder after BT decided not to pursue an appeal of the ruling.

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NHS Scotland can now award the £110 million Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) to its preferred bidder after BT decided not to pursue an appeal of the ruling.

The telecoms giant had taken NHS Scotland to court over what it claims was a “flawed” tender process for a six-year contract that would have enabled councils and NHS bodies in Scotland to share information more easily.

However, the Court of Session in Edinburgh found in favour of the procurement body NHS National Services Scotland (NSS), with the judge, Lord Malcolm, ruling that NSS could now award the contract to the preferred bidder - understood to be a partnership of Capita and Updata.

A spokesman for NHS NSS said: “We are pleased that we are now able to proceed with the contract award and get moving with the implementation of the Scottish Wide Area Network.

“This is great news for the Scottish taxpayer, and anyone who uses public services, whether in schools, councils, hospitals or elsewhere. The SWAN project is a major step forward in Scottish public sector infrastructure which will create savings and deliver an excellent service."

While BT has dropped its leave to appeal last week’s ruling, it could still pursue a damages action.

The telecoms company began the legal action before the preferred bidder was announced. Cable & Wireless with Virgin Media Business were also in the running for the contract.

With its legal action, BT was looking for a rerun of the tender process, or for £20 million in damages. It argued that the tender process did not ensure that the contract was awarded on the basis of the most economically advantageous bid, in accordance with regulations.

NSS maintains that the process was “fair, robust and thorough”.

BT has not yet replied to a request for comment.