NHS computer contract may be terminated, PM tells Norfolk MP

The prime minister has signalled that the government may end a colossal IT contract for the NHS after being challenged about it by Norfolk MP Richard Bacon in the House of Commons.

The prime minister has signalled that the government may end a colossal IT contract for the NHS after being challenged about it by Norfolk MP Richard Bacon in the House of Commons.

Emphasising that the health service's computer system would 'never deliver its early promise', Mr Bacon appealed for it to be scrapped so that the government could save �4.7bn that could then be better spent directly on patients.

Mr Cameron said the IT systems inherited from Labour were 'poor value for money'', with the �12bn centralised records system for 50 million patients in England taking four years longer than planned to implement.

He told MPs that since taking office the government had cut �1.3bn from the cost of the National Programme for IT in the NHS, including planned savings of at least �500 million from Computer Sciences Corporation, which is a private company.


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He added that here were no plans to sign any new contract with CSC until a National Audit Office report due to be published next week has been reviewed. And he continued: 'The Department of Health and Cabinet Office will examine all the available options under the current contract, including the option of terminating some or all of the contracts.''

Mr Bacon told the EDP that he was 'very pleased' with the response from the prime minister. Up to �6bn had already been spent on the NHS's national IT programme, he said, and in his opinion 'much of it has been squandered or poorly spent'. He wanted to ensure that a further �4.7bn wasn't squandered too.

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The South Norfolk MP, who is a member of the Commons public accounts committee, was particularly scathing about a software system called Lorenzo for running an acute hospital that CSC is contracted to instal. It was supposed to have established it in about 60pc of NHS hospitals by 2006, but 'has managed a very limited deployment in three hospitals in the past seven years and even this has caused chaos', said Mr Bacon.

'It can't do this because Lorenzo doesn't work', he continued. 'Lorenzo is useless.'

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