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NHS computer fiasco still costing billions | The Times

7 December, 2011 (23:33) | Computers are Magic, EPR, Government policy, Initiatives, National Programmes, Nightmares! | By: Helga Perry

The nightmare continues…..

Taxpayers will foot the bill for a further £2 billion on a failed NHS IT project even though the Government has already pulled the plug on it.

The American technology company Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) has boasted to Wall Street that it expects an extension of its contract to provide electronic patient records despite failing to deliver a fully functional version of its software.

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, announced in September that he was ditching the scheme to create a national patient database because it had “let down” the health service.

An investigation by The Times into Britain’s biggest IT procurement fiasco has unearthed a tale of risk-taking, mismanagement and broken promises for which taxpayers will pay the price.

In an indictment of Whitehall procedure that has saddled the NHS with an unfinished product:

· Health trusts were threatened with cuts unless they agreed to implement the system;

· Civil servants privately estimated that the software had a one-in-three chance of being delivered late;

· £250,000 was paid in bonuses by the Department of Health to 80 people as reward for “an exceptional contribution to delivery”;

· Applications installed as part of the scheme failed to function or have been put on ice;

· Officials calculated that it would cost nothing to scrap the system if things went wrong. But the Government is embroiled in a multimillion-pound legal battle with former suppliers and admits that the cost of ending the project may be higher than going ahead.

The National Programme for IT in the National Health Service, begun in 2002, was the world’s biggest civilian computerisation project and aimed to give doctors instant access to patient records wherever they were being treated. CSC signed a deal to computerise records in most of England.

The Times can also reveal that its former chief-executive and chairman, who presided over the debacle, has quit with a golden handshake worth millions of pounds. Yet the company states in official US papers that it is in talks with the Government for its contract to be extended until 2017, at a cost of up to £2 billion.

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients’ Association, said that it was shameful to pour more money into a failed initiative, adding: “There needs to be greater accountability and regular auditing to ensure that money is not being thrown away on wasteful projects.”

via NHS computer fiasco still costing billions | The Times.

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