The government has said it will not publish any details of cancellation clauses in Fujitsu’s £896 million contract with the NHS, or details of the termination notice, citing legal and confidentiality interests.
Negotiations broke down last month during a contract ‘reset’ between the NHS and Fujitsu, when the two parties could not agree on the costs and details of a contract that would deliver more localised services to individual NHS trusts.
Since then, Fujitsu has told the Public Accounts Committee that local NHS trusts had requested 615 changes to the systems it was putting in.
Ben Bradshaw, health minister, told MPs that it was “not the [health] department’s practice” to publish sections of contracts under the £12.7 billion NHS National Programme for IT. Under exemptions within the Freedom of Information Act, he said, disclosure could “constitute an actionable breach of confidence” or affect the commercial interests of either party.
Bradshaw said negotiations for Fujitsu’s exit were ongoing, and did not rule out the possibility of lawsuits taking place in the future.
“Publication of the termination notice issued to Fujitsu in the context of ongoing negotiations to reach a settlement with the company would put that objective at risk and potentially compromise the Department's position in any possible future litigation,” he said.
Since negotiations broke down, the NHS has stated that it took the decision to terminate the contract, while Fujitsu said it decided to leave. One source close to the negotiations said Fujitsu had quit the talks, putting it in breach of contract, after which the NHS terminated the deal.
Neither the NHS or Fujitsu would provide details on the end of the deal.
Asked whether the NHS was considering terminating contracts with the remaining NPfIT suppliers, CSC and BT, Bradshaw said that “currently” there were no plans.
Bradshaw did not provide new guidance on any extension to the timeframe of the programme as a result of Fujitsu’s exit and the search for replacement suppliers, other than to refer MPs back to a National Audit Office report that said the rollout of care records systems is not likely to be complete until 2014-15, four years later than scheduled.