Accenture cuts losses on NHS project

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Global serivces firm Accenture has pulled out of the UK government’s £12.4 billion (US$23.2 billion) programme to upgrade the IT infrastructure of the country’s National Heath Service (NHS).

Accenture has cancelled contracts worth around US$3.8 billion to implement new patient and GP systems in the East and North East regions of the country as part of the government’s Connecting for Health (CfH) programme.

“The changes are presaged by NHS Connecting for Health and its suppliers’ ongoing desire to ensure that delivery of new systems is as rapid as is practicable within existing costs,” Accenture said.

Despite pulling out of the contracts, Accenture will still get to keep US$205.1million of the US$323.6million it has already been paid by the NHS for work done on the CfH project.

The firm still expects to make a loss of US$450million on the contracts over the next three to four years due to fines imposed for missing deadlines for delivering the systems.

This setback, the latest in a long list of problems that has beset the CfH project, has infuriated NHS staff.

One NHS IT director in the North East region, who did not want to be named, told that people were very angry about the delays and lack of progress.

“Accenture have done absolutely nothing in the North East and for the past nine to 12 months they have been invisible. They have been here for nearly three years and they have done nothing, yet it has put planning blight on any progress that was being made before,” he said.

Accenture will hand over its responsibilities to another firm Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), which already has contracts with the NHS to deliver CfH projects in the North West and West Midlands regions.

However, opposition MPs have slammed CSC’s appointment as the firm has itself missed deadlines for the delivery of working systems.

“This just replaces one regional contractor with another which has less experience,’ Conservative MP Richard Bacon, who sits on the Public Accounts Committee, told the Observer newspaper.

“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.”

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