27 July 2007 | Helen Gilbert
A health group contracted to provide diagnostic services for NHS patients in the north and south west of England has been fired for failing to meets its obligations.
Atos Healthcare - the recently formed healthcare division of Atos Origin - was awarded the contract in December 2006 to provide services such as ultrasounds and MRI scans as part of a government drive to provide faster services for patients.
But this week the Department of Health (DH) announced it was axing the group for failing to meet contractual conditions and establishing services to agreed timescales.
Ben Bradshaw, the newly appointed minister for NHS IT, said: "It has become clear Atos Healthcare is not in a position to deliver the services to the agreed timetable and we have decided not to proceed with this partnership."
The DH would not confirm the value of the two contracts but they have been reported as multi-million pound deals.
Strategic Health Authorities will now use existing contractors to plug the hole in services. "Diagnostic services will continue to be provided by local trusts and other local independent sector organisations in the area," Bradshaw said.
In a statement Atos Healthcare said: "The DH yesterday advised Atos Healthcare that it did not intend to proceed with its centrally procured diagnostic services contracts for the north west and south west regions. We are in the process of engaging in discussions with the DH to agree the final termination details of the contract."