09 August 2007 | Antony Barton
The NHS was prepared to take control of software supplier iSoft to ensure delivery of its computer system, the government has confirmed.
iSoft was contracted by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) to provide its Lorenzo care records system for the £12.4 billion National Programme for IT. But problems surrounding slow delivery of the system, which is running two years late, was compounded when the two suppliers entered a legal dispute after iSoft, which is in financial difficulty, sought a buyer. The two recently reached an agreement which will see CSC take control of the delivery of the Lorenzo system.
Health minister Ben Bradshaw told the House of Commons that NHS Connecting for Health can exercise step-in rights "on an exceptional basis and in the event of certain critical circumstances, for the purpose of maintaining continuity of delivery and service for the NHS".
He said: "Action was taken to exercise this provision in relation to iSoft on a contingency basis, and a joint team of appropriately experienced NHS and private sector programme managers and software engineers identified for the purpose.
"There have been no standby costs, but some limited expenditure has been incurred [by the health service] in monitoring the circumstances surrounding the recent uncertainty over the future of iSoft."
A statement from iSoft on interim results up to the end of April this year shows the company suffered a loss of £14.3 million from operations.