Coalition’s NHS IT policy marred by confusion as key system goes live

CSC has delivered a key patient system at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust, but confusion is rife as to what it means for the new government’s NHS IT policy.

Share

CSC has delivered a key patient system at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust, but confusion is rife as to what it means for the new government’s NHS IT policy.

Today, CSC plans to finalise the first phase of the implementation of the iSoft Lorenzo 1.9 patient administration system at the trust. The system initially went live over the weekend, accessible to 3,500 staff. But will not run in Accident & Emergency settings unless the trust implements an updated version of the system, and there is understood to be considerable discussion between the NHS and suppliers about this system.

The Morecambe Bay deployment, if it proves to be of a workable system, is aimed at demonstrating CSC’s suitability as a supplier, as well as triggering a major payment to the company.

But the government has been unable to clarify its stance on CSC’s performance or the long term future of the programme, saying only that assessments were still being made. CSC had not commented at the time of writing.

As contract talks loom, the NHS was today accused by Richard Bacon MP of the authoritative House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, of overpaying suppliers for work when it renegotiates deals.

Bacon, a long time critic of the way the programme has been run, told Computerworld UK that in contract renegotiations, the government “pays a lot of money for a little extra. It’s like a payment through the back door”.

In recent renegotiations, the £1.1 billion contract with BT, the NHS IT Programme's other major supplier, shrunk by only £112 million, but large amounts of work were cut out.

Only around half of London’s acute hospitals, meaning those with an Accident & Emergency unit, will now receive the central Cerner Millennium patient administration software. BT will no longer provide a dedicated system for sharing records between hospitals, E-Health Insider reported.

As CSC awaits news of its future, analysts noted that the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties making up the new government have not yet clarified their stance on the programme.

Find your next job with computerworld UK jobs