07 July 2005 | Anusha Bradley
The decision to drop a supplier for a national electronic patient records project is neither a surprise nor a disaster, according to the NHS's IT chief
Richard Granger, NHS IT director-general, said the decision by Fujitsu - one of the main contractors on the project - to ditch software company IDX was not entirely unexpected.
Fujitsu ended the partnership last month, claiming IDX was late with the software, which was intended for trusts in the south of England.
Subject to contract, the replacement software will come from Cerner Corporation.
Granger added that the project was not reliant on a single supplier, so it could cope with the loss of a contractor.
When initial work started three years ago, some suppliers promised they could do everything, he told an Office of Government Commerce (OGC) conference in London last month.
"But analysis said this was not a good idea, so we spread the work across suppliers so we would not be dependent on one."
However, IDX still has a contract with a group of NHS trusts in London.
Granger also disputed media reports that the £8.5 billion Connecting for Health IT project - the 10-year overall project to upgrade NHS systems, of which electronic records are a part - could overrun by £31 billion.
He said the programme had been successful and was running according to plan.
"I am delivering technology systems worth £6.2 billion on time and on budget," he said.
"350,000 people are now using things that my programme has delivered. After two and a half years, it's not bad."
The NHS in England expects to save £3.8 billion over 10 years through central purchasing of IT systems, according to Connecting for Health's first annual report.