Tuesday, 3 November 2009

November NHS IT deadline draws near for CSC and BT

(By Tola Sargeant, Tuesday 3 November, 10.00am) It has been a pretty depressing week for followers of NHS IT in the UK. Back in April, the Department of Health’s director general of informatics, Christine Connelly, set an end of November 2009 deadline for ‘significant’ progress from the National Programme for IT in the NHS’ (NPfIT’s) remaining Local Service Providers (LSPs) BT and CSC. But as that deadline draws nearer, we learn that CSC’s make or break deployment of iSoft’s Lorenzo software at NHS Bury is behind schedule and, perhaps more worryingly, that there are only about 174 ‘regular users’ of Lorenzo across the five NHS trusts that are already using early versions of the system. We’ve no word yet on how BT is performing against its milestones in London.

The figures on Lorenzo usage were released by health minister Mike O’Brien last week in response to an MP’s question and relate to Release 1 of the software, which provides limited clinical tools on top of an existing patient administration system (PAS). They clearly show deployments to date have been restricted to specific areas of a small number of hospitals – indeed the highest recorded number of concurrent users of the software is just 19.
At the moment, it is hard to argue that the c£3b of contracts that CSC has with the Department of Health (DoH), the earliest dating back to 2003, are providing value for money on a per user basis! For the contracts to be considered a success usage would need to be in the tens of thousands. In CSC’s defence, usage should improve significantly if the fuller version of Lorenzo (Release 1.9), which includes a PAS, is successfully deployed, first at NHS Bury and then at the big acute Trust Morecambe Bay, which would have thousands of staff using Lorenzo.
But according to Board papers at NHS Bury - the strategic Lorenzo deployment against which LSP CSC will be judged in relation to the November deadline – the Trust has missed its initial planned go-live date of 26th October. The Trust claims, however, that it is still on track to deploy Lorenzo R1.9 before the end of November. CSC, and the DoH, will be hoping this is indeed the case.
It is still not clear what would happen if CSC and BT fail to make ‘significant’ progress by the November deadline. One possible option is the extension of the local procurement model being used in the South of England following Fujitsu’s departure from the Programme (see NHS IT Localisation: A world of opportunity), which would inevitably lead to further delays as fresh procurements are organised.

As a footnote, we were sad to note that maternity systems supplier EuroKing Miracle looks set to be liquidated next week. EuroKing’s software has proved popular with the NHS and no doubt the company will be missed.

No comments:

Post a Comment