NHS hangs tough as delivery deadline looms

CSC and BT attempt to show delivery as iSoft's Lorenzo goes live in Bury

The NHS has insisted it will stick to its guns and take a tough stance on key suppliers BT and CSC if they do not meet a delivery deadline for a workable patient records system.

Last week it announced a set of key metrics on which it will measure the suppliers, as part of the £12.7 billion (US$20.9 billion) National Programme for IT. This was an effort to make plain that simply switching on the systems will not be enough to prove workability. Analysts have questioned whether the suppliers will be able to demonstrate proof of scalability from their initial deployments.

An end of November deadline was set earlier this year for a workable patient system from the two suppliers, otherwise they could face termination.

One week after the new criteria were announced, both CSC and BT appear to be closing in on delivery. NHS Bury went live with the full version of its patient administration system this morning, and NHS Kingston plans to go live soon with a system from another supplier.

BT told Computerworld UK that it "expects to go live in the coming weeks" with the Cerner Millennium system. If it is rolled out in Kingston, as is understood, this would mark the first acute trust with BT systems to go live since an "improvement plan" was put in place earlier this year. The improvement plan was introduced after extensive rollout problems in other parts of London. Delivery at Kingston would be just ahead of the deadline.

CSC had not answered a query on its progress at the time of writing. But it has deployed an iSoft Lorenzo system at NHS Bury, which went live today, after missing a planned go live date last month.

Among the criteria set by the NHS is evidence that the suppliers have "capacity and capability" to deliver the systems on a large scale, across the NHS, by the 2015 programme end deadline.

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