NHS e-records scheme dropped by health trust
The Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust (RUH), which serves more than 500,000 people, says that since the withdrawal of major contractor Fujitsu it has lost confidence in the NHS IT electronic care-record programme and is therefore stopping deployment of the Cerner Millennium electronic Care-Records System (CRS). Many health and IT workers within the NHS remain deeply sceptical about the suitability of Millennium, a US product, for Britain's hospitals. A report in May 2008 by the National Audit Office revealed that nine Millennium systems have been installed in trusts in the southern region, out of a total of just 13 Millennium systems deployed under the NHS scheme. In several cases payment has been withheld by trusts, which is only supposed to happen if systems are not working properly. The system is part of the £12.7bn NHS IT modernisation programme.
Fujitsu had a 10-year, £896m contract with the NHS to install Cerner Millennium CRS in the South of England from Kent to Cornwall, as part of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT). Talks had been underway since July 2007 over negotiations to 'reset' either the fee or the amount of work to be done, but the contract was terminated after the parties failed to agree. BT, already lead contractor for the neighbouring London region and also deploying Cerner Millennium, had expressed interest in taking up the contract, but disaffected trusts across the south of England have called for the NHS bosses not to replace Fujitsu, because they want to pick their own suppliers. The NHS have cracked the whip by saying that if the Bath trust takes this route they will have to find local funding.
The NHS NPfIT is said to be one of the largest non-military IT projects in the world and has been beset with problems since its inception.