US company CSC is to cut 640 UK jobs relating to its 'unworkable' Lorenzo NHS IT contract, taking the total of announced job cuts to over 1,100 since February, according to the Unite trade union.
The majority of cuts will affect CSC employees in Chesterfield, Chorley, Leeds and Solihull, Unite said in a statement on Monday.
"This announcement of a further 640 job cuts has dealt our members a severe body blow and left them absolutely devastated," Unite national officer Kevin O'Gallagher said.
The Lorenzo patient care records project has been hanging in the balance since a series of damning reports about Lorenzo produced by government bodies and MPs last year. CSC said at the beginning of April that talks with the UK government, which were due to be concluded by March 31, are still ongoing, ZDNet.com reported.
CSC confirmed that it would be making 640 redundancies, but said these would not affect Lorenzo staff.
CSC said the 640 redundancies would not come on top of 500 redundancies for staff working on Lorenzo announced in February.
"The programme is across our UK and Ireland business but excludes CSC's UK healthcare group, (under which the NHS sits)," a CSC spokeswoman said in an email exchange.
The company said that the job losses were not indicative of how well its talks with the government were progressing:
"We can confirm that we have started a formal 90-day consultation process in the UK which could reduce the number of people working in our UK business by an anticipated number of 640 people. This action is necessary because the IT services market is changing, and our customers want competitive, new services with different contract and delivery models.
Through voluntary redundancies and redeploying people within other parts of our business, we hope to achieve a significant reduction without the need for compulsory redundancies. Where this is not possible, we will provide support to help ensure that anyone leaving the business does so in the best possible position. Our employees will naturally be concerned during this period of uncertainty, which is why we have initiated employee briefings to help them through this difficult situation.
CSC remains fully committed to the UK market. We are confident that these carefully targeted and managed reductions will not [have an] impact [on] the overall quality of service we provide to our customers.
This action is separate and independent of our NHS consultation programme, which started a number of weeks ago, whereby up to 500 employees within our healthcare business may be affected by the consultation programme. Through voluntary redundancies and redeploying people within other parts of our business, we hope to achieve a significant reduction without the need for compulsory redundancies.
We have now substantially completed many key development activities in relation to CSC’s programme of work under NPfIT and are moving away from a focus on development work.
Our NHS discussions, as have been widely reported, are now progressing towards a new, and different contractual arrangement, and a letter of intent to this effect was signed between CSC and the Department of Health in March 2012.
Much has moved on since the well reported reviews of the entire NHS NPfIT programme last year. For CSC, Lorenzo, our new solution for the NHS, has developed and matured, and the letter of intent, which defines a way forward for CSC to deliver healthcare solutions and services, in support of the NHS' reform agenda, reflects a new, more localised approach in response to a shift to more devolved decision-making and budgetary control within the NHS.
Beyond Lorenzo, it should be noted that CSC provides a wide range of other solutions and services to the NHS, including hospital systems, GP, ambulance, and community systems, digital imaging, and these services will continue to be delivered and managed as they have been successfully and securely for many years. In fact today CSC solutions are deployed in around 85% of all hospital trusts in England."