Public Sector IT

Apr 1 2010   1:14AM GMT

CSC faces dismissal from part of NPfIT says FT

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project failures
Project management

                   NHS CIO warns CSC “we cannot wait forever”

The FT reports today that CSC, the biggest single supplier to the £12bn NHS IT programme, is “on the brink of being fired from a key part of its contract after failing to meet a deadline to install systems at hospitals in the north-west”.

The newspaper says that NPfIT local service providers CSC and BT had each been given a deadline to get new systems running smoothly in a big, acute, hospital, with the Department of Health warning last year that it would “look at alternative approaches” if that failed to happen.

Since then BT has installed Cerner’s Millennium a system at Kingston Hospital to the satisfaction of the Department of Health. Christine Connelly, the NHS’s CIO, said that her department now needs to go through a due process under its contract with CSC which could yet see a new deadline set and met.

But she told the FT that if progress is not made, the Department of Health has the option of cancelling CSC’s contract to install the systems in acute hospitals – which is worth about £1bn. Connelly could end up allowing hospitals to choose from other suppliers.

Connelly said that CSC has to be given time, under its contract, to propose a fresh deadline fordeployment at Morecambe Bay. The Department of Health will then assess the credibility of the new deadline and decide whether to agree it. “We have to walk through this step by step,” Connelly told the FT.

“In a contract as large and complex as this wecannot just set a deadline and say that’s it. We have to act responsiblyand not expose the department and the taxpayer to risk.”

But,she added, “we cannot wait for ever”.

BT has signed a memorandum of understanding, whichthe Department of Health said would save the NHS £112m.

The FT quoted Connelly as saying: “As part of the deal, BT is now signedup to install much fewer fullsystems in London, with about half the hospitals likely to add clinicalsystems to their existing IT arrangements, rather than replacingeverything.”



If the Department of Health cancels CSC’s contract to deliver Lorenzo to acute trusts, the supplier could lose tens of millions of pounds in payments that are predicated on a successful go-live at Morecambe Bay.

On the other hand, CSC has done well from supplying “interim” iSoft and other systems to the NHS. If fired from supplying acute trusts, CSC could conceivably carry on supplying  systems to the NHS without the further risks to its finances and reputation from having to supply acute trusts with Lorenzo.


The memorandum of understanding signed with BT, as I mentioned on the BBC File on 4 programme on Government IT projects last month, reduces BT’s financial commitment by much more than the taxpayer saves on the supplier’s contract. Should the NHS – and taxpayers –  be grateful that an MoU has not yet been signed with CSC?


Failing NHS supplier faces dismissal – FT

Is NPfIT “in crisis” because CSC misses deadline at Morecambe Bay? – IT Projects Blog

3  Comments on this Post

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  • DBAndJ2EEInstruction
    These are the people you call to change a printer cartridge not run a software project.

    CSC does EVERYTHING in their power to stretch a 2 month project into 2 years..including churning competent contractors to submitting falsified timesheets to government officials

    CSC employees have the twin characteristics of being incompetent and arrogant....Anyone else (even IBM or EDS or even Perot Systems) can do a better job than CSC.

    Martin Gainty

    USCitizen-Contractor to CSC

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  • Mary Hawking
    "But she told the FT that if progress is not made, the Department of Health has the option of cancelling CSC's contract to install the systems in acute hospitals - which is worth about £1bn. Connelly could end up allowing hospitals to choose from other suppliers."

    EHI seems to think that there could be a cancellation of the entire LSP contract rather than one element of it: which is true?

    As a GP in one of the parts of NME where CSC has a contract to deliver a GP system (actually, theoretically, a choice of two - but the first choice was Lorenzo..) I am concerned about the impact on general practice if the LSP contract is canceled, modified - or continued.

    General practices had sophisticated IT systems long before the arrival of NPfIT tried to remove choice and market competition - and confirmed my suspicion that the DH had no knowledge of the way GPs work: had they not realised that the nGMS contract depended on excellent GP IT systems - and included a guarantee of choice of systems?

    So what is at risk for CSC?

    The entire LSP contract?

    Or only the part causing them problems?

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  • Tony Collins
    The FT article suggests that only part of the CSC contract is at risk - to deliver systems to acute hospitals.

    The FT says that CSC "is on the brink of being fired from a key part of its contract ..."

    I cannot see a time when CSC would lose all three of its 3 LSP contracts, which are worth about £3bn.

    The Tories, if they win, will undoubtedly seek legal advice on cancelling the CSC deal and will, perhaps, be told that the risks to the NHS and GPs of withdrawing support from installed systems, and the risks to the public purse of any legal action, will make cancellation an impractical option.

    CSC's legal advice would probably be the same: that legal action would have an uncertain outcome given the deadlines that have come and gone.

    In my view, the most likely result of the re-negotiations with CSC is the time-honoured fudge.

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