NHS IT director Richard Granger has told MPs that lead contractor CSC will seize the reigns to ensure delivery of the long-delayed Lorenzo care record system by next year.
The Lorenzo system is the core element of the NHS’s £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in three out of five NPfIT regions, where CSC is the lead contractor.
But Lorenzo, to be supplied by troubled subcontractor iSoft, is already running more than two years late and the software supplier has been in turmoil after reporting a string of losses and coming under investigation by the Financial Services Authority for accounting irregularities.
CSC and iSoft have been locked in talks over future management arrangements for the Lorenzo project. CSC had earlier blocked the £140m sale of iSoft to Australian software firm IBA, saying this would not support successful delivery of Lorenzo.
But Granger told the Commons health select committee that CSC was now “in the latter stages” of the talks to “ensure appropriate funding and management control to take the now largely completed code and test it”.
Granger said matters between the two firms and IBA were “near a satisfactory conclusion” and suggested that an announcement about the iSoft sale was due “in the next few days”.
Last week, Connecting for Health, which runs NPfIT, denied that Granger, its director general, had intervened to bring CSC and iSoft together. But in more robust remarks to the MPs, Granger confirmed that if necessary the NHS had “the third party resource... to take control” and ensure that CSC “step up to the plate” over Lorenzo.
“We expect within the next couple of weeks the first live running of the Lorenzo version 3 somewhere in Aachen, in Germany," Granger said, adding that Lorenzo would “start to be rolled out next year”.
“I expect there will be some difficulties with the product in the early sites,” he said. “Through the last part of 2008 and the next couple of years it will be rolled out to the rest of the sites that want it.”
But in response to MPs’ questions, Granger also confirmed that should Lorenzo be further delayed, hospital trusts would instead be able to use Cerner’s Millennium software – the package being supplied in the two regions where CSC is not the lead NPfIT contractor.
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