Atos Origin has insisted it will continue to work with the Department of Health and the NHS despite the suspension of a key health service contract.
Ultrasound and medical imaging services, which were being provided by the IT consultancy, were suspended on 20 March after NHS North West claimed that "operational issues had led to incomplete patient information being included and delays in reporting diagnoses".
The crisis deepened last week when it was revealed that there were technical as well as administrative problems with Atos Origin's service. Up to 900 patients from areas including Manchester and Liverpool may now have to be called back to hospital to have their scans repeated. The problems arose during a contract that expired at the end of March. A follow-on contract due to start in April has now been shelved for the time being.
A spokesperson for Atos Origin said on Friday that the consultancy had "taken the decision to stop accepting referrals for all diagnostic examinations while a full process review takes place. [Atos Origin, the Department for Health and the NHS] continue to work together in preparation for service delivery scheduled to commence in the coming months".
Atos Origin is also developing Choose and Book, the appointments system that is one of the major elements of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT). NPfIT is the largest civilian IT project in the world and will bring together the UK's hospitals and GPs all on one network which shared access to patient information.