Royal Berkshire NHS Trust, which dramatically quit the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in 2008, has signed a deal with CSC – the National Programme provider whose performance was heavily criticised by committees.
Royal Berkshire now has a £45 million, seven year, all-encompassing IT deal with CSC, with an optional three year extension.
The NHS trust quit NPfIT in 2008, abandoning a scheduled patient records implementation with Fujitsu, the company now embroiled in a £700 million legal spat with the government over its departure from the programme later that year. Royal Berkshire said at the time it was "very worrying" that work had stopped in the region.
Royal Berkshire later directly commissioned a version of Cerner Millennium, the records system that Fujitsu would have implemented.
The new deal will be seen as important to CSC, which has been keen to sign up NHS trusts and to demonstrate its abilities, after NPfIT was abandoned in September. Nevertheless, the £45 million deal value is less than many of the hospitals that made up its former £3 billion NPfIT contract.
Earlier this year, the Public Accounts Committee lambasted CSC as potentially unfit for any more public sector work, after the provider had only delivered its main system to three large trusts in nine years. CSC has looked to paint a different picture, arguing it has extensive healthcare experience.
CSC also faces some severe challenges, in the form of a £1.77 billion loss in its recent second quarter results, investor lawsuits over NPfIT, and several high profile investigations into alleged accounting fraud.
Under Royal Berkshire's new deal, CSC will provide hosting, development and management for the majority of the trust's IT and back-office processes, as well as specific networking, infrastructure, desktop engineering, application development and support. It will also provide advice and support for what it calls a "clinically-driven" health informatics function.
CSC will not run the patient records system, which is due to go live in March, but it will provide a 24x7 IT helpdesk that covers all functions, including the records.
Earlier in the summer, Royal Berkshire completed a transition and stabilisation phase to move the service to CSC, under which all of the trust's IT services staff transferred to CSC.
Under the current phase, CSC is modernising the trust's IT infrastructure.