NHS faces wave of legal action over computer systems

The NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) could soon become embroiled in expensive legal action.

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The NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) could soon become embroiled in expensive legal action.

The NPfIT could face a £700 million law suit from Fujitsu after its contract to supply IT services was “terminated” after a disagreement on who should pay for systems changes. Meanwhile in London, some NHS trusts are considering legal action over chaotic performance of new NPfIT systems.

A Fujitsu executive told MPs in June the constant demand to make local changes drove it to pull out of the National Programme.

Now the supplier is seeking to recover most of the £896m fee it would have received for completing the entire project, the Independent has reported. The £700m claim is the biggest compensation claim the NHS has ever faced.

A Fujitsu spokesperson said the company is in talks with NHS to "resolve issues" over the contract, but did not rule out the possibility of future legal action to press its £700m charge.

"Fujitsu Services has sent a Procedure Initiation Notice (PIN) to NHS CfH as the first step in the process established by the contract to resolve issues," the Fujitsu spokesperson explained. "We hope we will be able to successfully resolve any issues between Fujitsu and NHS CfH through this mechanism."

A PIN is a commercial process, rather than a legal action, that companies can take in order to register a claim for compensation if a contract enters into dispute.

An NHS CfH spokesperson said: "Under the terms of a joint confidentiality agreement with Fujitsu, we are not able to enter into discussion about these allegations." Both parties stressed they were working together to ensure a smooth handover of systems.

Meanwhile some of London's hospital trusts could be making compensation claims of their own over the disappointing performance of computer systems.

Minutes from Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust board meeting on 28 August reveal that members discussed the possibility of legal action over deficiencies in a patient administration system, based on Cerner Millenium and supplied by BT Global Services.

Chief executive Andrew Way told board members that the hospital could consider compensation claims, but the minutes noted, "With regard to compensation, Mr Way reminded members that the contract was with the Secretary of State and that currently it was considered the NHS as a whole was failing to deliver more substantially than BT".

The trust is "continuing to log all the problems which had been encountered to be used in the event that a claim proves possible".

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