Accenture quits NHS computer deal


Accenture has announced that it is to quit the £12 billion upgrade of the NHS computer system.

It will transfer its responsibility for its obligations within the programme for the north and north-eastern clusters of the country to Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) by January 8th 2007.

Accenture will however keep its responsibility for delivering picture archiving and communication systems (Pacs).

The change is said to be necessary due to "ongoing desires" from NHS Connecting for Health (CFH) and its suppliers to "ensure that delivery of new systems is as rapid as is practicable within existing costs".

Steve Webb, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, said that the announcement was "yet more evidence" of the NHS computer system being in "deep trouble".

"This firm's departure will generate yet more fears that the NHS IT project's costs and problems will escalate further," he said.

"Inevitably, when you change supplier there will be handover costs and the danger that people with valuable knowledge will leave."

And Conservative MP Richard Bacon said that the main problem is not just with the contractors but the system that it is being used in the first place.

"By passing the baton to CSC with indecent haste, the government has missed a golden opportunity to think again and to give more control to hospitals locally. I feel very sorry for hospitals who will have to put up with more delays and with systems that just don't work properly," he warned.

However a statement from CFH said: "The programme has already made much progress with hundreds of new computer systems already deployed, benefiting thousands of clinicians and millions of patients.

"The previous situation, prior to the launch of the National Programme for IT, with hundreds of different systems of varying quality and age and which do not link up is not sustainable."

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