NHS delays hit UK software firm's profits

iSoft's contract to supply NHS Trusts with new software products has hit unexpected delays

Shares in UK software firm iSoft plunged on Monday after it warned investors that a key part of the IT upgrade of the National Health Service has been delayed.

iSoft develops software applications for the healthcare sector, including programs that handle patient data. It has won a contract to supply software to NHS trusts as part of the NHS modernisation, but has now admitted that the delay means it will earn £55m less than previously expected from the programme this year.

"The National Programme for IT in the NHS in England has been experiencing a significant degree of rescheduling. The process to revise delivery plans and timescales within the Programme is on-going. As a result it is now clear that delivery of iSoft application solutions to NHS Trusts will occur, in general, later than previously expected," said iSoft in a statement.

Further details of the delays were not immediately available.

iSoft estimated that its total operating profit for this financial year will drop by £45m. It also warned that it can't say whether delays to the programme — which should run for 10 years — will cause long-term damage to its plans.

The City reacted badly to this news, with ISoft's shares dropping around 40 percent from 358p to 208p by early Monday afternoon.

The NHS IT programme is meant to deliver a wide range of new electronic services for booking appointments, providing electronic records and better management of healthcare, but it has been dogged by problems in recent months.

Last November, a leaked email from Richard Granger, director general of IT for the NHS, warned colleagues that there was a real danger that the whole project could be derailed by problems with the system allowing patients to book their own appointments.

A recent survey of doctors also found that few of them believe the project will deliver improvements