NHS trusts in the South of England may find themselves reliant on Fujitsu to provide key systems a full year after the firm’s NHS contract was ended.
E-Health Insider has learned Fujitsu’s current stop-gap contract to support the eight NHS trusts running Cerner’s electronic patient record software, the 'Live Eight', has now been extended for an extra six months to the end of May 2009.
A ‘short form agreement’ has been reached with Fujitsu to provide Care Record, PACS and child health services beyond the original end date of 28 November 2008.
Despite the contract extension, Fujitsu has redeployed 640 staff from what was its NHS team, with a further 60 staff either leaving or being made redundant.
A spokesperson for the Southern Programme for IT told EHI: “Originally the date was 28 November but has recently been extended to 28 May, 2009, to allow the negotiations with the new suppliers to conclude and arrangements for a safe transfer to take place.”
The extension to the stop-gap contract has been made necessary since NHS Connecting for Health has been unable to reach agreement with BT to take over from Fujitsu. The failure to reach agreement means that plans for urgently needed upgrades and developments remain on hold.
The spokesperson confirmed that BT’s original bid to take over the Cerner sites had been rejected: “We can confirm a revised proposal was requested which built up on the original proposition put forward by BT. This is currently under review.”
Asked to confirm reports the rejected bid had a price tag of £100m, the spokesperson said: “We do not recognise the figure quoted.” SPfIT confirmed that BT was the only company it is negotiating with to take over the Cerner sites.
The transition plans under discussion do not include provisions for BT to take any further trusts live with Cerner. CfH expects trusts to use the National Programme for IT in the NHS contracts with BT and CSC, the two remaining LSPs, to buy systems.
A series of presentations have been run by BT and CSC, and by their main suppliers Cerner and iSoft, to try and convince strategic health authorities and trusts to sign-up with them. Nhs South Central, for instance, ran two presentation days in August at which LSPs pitched what they could offer NHS organisations.
Negotiations to 'reset' the Fujitsu local service provider contract in the South broke down in May, leading to Fujitsu’s withdrawal from negotiations and the termination of its contract. Attempts to re-negotiate the contract had been underway since July 2007, leading to the NPfIT programme grinding to a halt in the hospital sector.
In June, Gordon Hextall, acting head of NHS CfH, told the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee the agency was in negotiations with BT to take over Cerner sites in the south and hoped to award a contract by August. On 17 June, Hextall said: “It will be a month before due diligence can be completed.”
SPfIT says it now has no deadline for the completion of negotiations. “We hope this will be shortly but they will take as long as required to ensure an appropriate agreement.”
Since Bath axed its planned Cerner implementation in July, which was to have been carried out by Fujitsu, no NHS trust in the south has taken the system or received later releases of the Cener Millennium software.
There are now no planned dates for any further implementations, leaving over 30 acute trusts in the South without any immediate route to achieve electronic patient records.
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