PAC slams NHS IT system project

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has published a report claiming that the project to upgrade NHS computer systems across England is looking to be one of the ‘worst and most expensive contracting fiascos’ in public sector history.

The final overall cost of abandoning the project is not known. Ministers thought initially that the cost of the fiasco would be around GBP 6.4 billion and later revised the cost to around GBP 9.8 million. However, this figure is still set to rise as it does not account for the price of terminating a contract with Fujitsu for the provision of care records systems among other future costs.

The aim of the project was to introduce electronic records, digital scanning and integrated IT systems across the NHS. The project was scrapped two years ago following technical problems and issues with contracts.

PAC member Richard Bacon said: “The taxpayer is continuing to pay the price for the ill-fated national programme for IT in the NHS. Although officially dismantled (it) continues in the form of separate component programmes which are still racking up big costs.”

Mr Bacon recalled the government’s renegotiation of GBP 3.1 billion worth of deals with CSC and the implementation of the Lorenzo care records system. He said: “Despite the contractor’s weak performance, the Department of Health is itself in a weak position in its attempts to renegotiate the contracts. The department’s latest estimate of £9.8bn leaves out the future costs of Lorenzo or the potential large future costs arising from the department’s termination of Fujitsu’s contract for care records systems in the south of England.”

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