NHS may revive 'unworkable' Lorenzo system

NHS may revive 'unworkable' Lorenzo system

Summary: The NHS is in the process of negotiating a new deal with US company CSC for its Lorenzo patient records system, which was dubbed 'unworkable' by MPs in 2011

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The Department of Health is in the process of negotiating a revival of the 'unworkable' Lorenzo patient records system with US corporation CSC, despite the government pledging to 'dismantle' the NHS National Programme for IT.

NHS IT

The NHS is in the process of negotiating a new deal with US company CSC for its Lorenzo patient records system.

The NHS and CSC have signed a letter of intent that could see CSC add to its implementations of Lorenzo in the north, Midlands and east of England, the company announced on Monday.

"As a part of this agreement, it is intended that CSC will contract to deliver additional Lorenzo implementations, adding to the 10 deployed successfully to date, with options for more where demand materialises," said CSC.

The £2.7bn Lorenzo patient records system, which was running years behind schedule and labelled 'unworkable' by MPs last summer, was a major plank of the disastrous National Programme for IT (NPfIT). In December CSC said it expected to lose $1.5bn (£900,000) on the project after David Cameron and others said that the project may be scrapped.

However, a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday said that officials from the NHS, the Cabinet Office, and the Treasury are in the process of negotiating a fresh deal with the US company. In May 2011 former health chief information officer Christine Connelly said that CSC contracts could cost the NHS more to cancel than to keep due to legal fallout and the costs of replacement.

CSC expects to recoup up to $1.3bn 'work in process balance', plus an extra $222m, or $1.5bn in total, from the revived contracts, according to the SEC filing. CSC expects to enter into a binding interim agreement with the government on 31 March.

On Tuesday, CSC told ZDNet UK that it had successfully deployed Lorenzo in 10 health trusts in the north, Midlands and east of England.

The National Audit Office (NAO) severely criticised the pace of the Lorenzo rollout to NHS trusts in May 2011. NAO found that only four out of 97 systems had been delivered to acute hospital trusts in seven years in the north, Midlands and east of England.

On Wednesday a DoH spokeswoman said DoH "recognised the number quoted" by CSC.

'Hugely improved' settlement

The spokeswoman declined to say how much NHS expected to pay CSC for any revived contracts, saying the negotiations were ongoing.

"DoH has secured agreement to an approach which will involve a hugely improved settlement for the NHS with CSC," DoH said in a statement. "A letter of intent has been negotiated which makes clear that a new contract, to be signed this spring, will ensure that the local NHS has control over whether to introduce Lorenzo."

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DoH said the agreement will let health trusts take decisions about implementing the software.

"This is in line with the government's overall approach to the NHS, making sure that the people in charge of decisions are the ones driving improvements locally," said the statement.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said that the government had been "quite clear" that it wanted to dismantle NPfIT, and said that fresh Lorenzo negotiations with CSC did not contradict this.

"The government has been clear that it will be a tough customer and is driving the best possible deals for taxpayers with all of its suppliers, not just CSC," the Cabinet Office said in a statement. "The government has already delivered over £800m in savings from renegotiating deals with some of its largest suppliers to government, equivalent to six percent of a full year of spend with those suppliers."


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Topics: Government UK, Tech Industry

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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