The National Programme for IT in the NHS: an update on the delivery of detailed care records systems - Public Accounts Committee Contents

Supplementary written evidence from the Department of Health

Thank you for your letter dated 27 June. I apologise for the slight delay to my response. I have responded to your questions in order below.


1.  Is this (press) report accurate?

I can confirm that the report referred to in your letter is accurate.

2.  Why was this payment was not reported to the PAC, either during the hearing or in the subsequent memorandum?

This advance payment was not reported to the PAC as the payment was made in April 2011 and the memorandum submitted only covered advance payments up to the end of March 2011, the most recent complete financial reporting period. The period covered by the disclosure was made clear in the memorandum. I apologise that this later payment was not disclosed as part of the memorandum and I can assure you that there was no intention to mislead you or the Committee on this point.

3.  What was the justification for this payment and what value does it represent to the NHS?

This advance payment was agreed by the DH Finance and HM Treasury for an initial period of six weeks from 1 April, given the exceptional circumstances and in the expectation that, during that period, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) would be signed. In the event, the Major Projects Authority review took place and is under discussion between Cabinet Office, the Department of Health, their officials and Ministers. The original period of the advance payment has now been extended until 30 September 2011 again with HMT approval, whilst the deliberations and outcomes of the MPA review are finalised.

4.  What will happen in respect of this payment if a new memorandum of understanding is not in fact signed with CSC?

If there is no agreement and an MoU or other agreement is not signed that allows CSC to retain the advance payment during this financial year, then the payment will be re payable, save for any amounts earned by CSC.

5.  I would also be grateful if you would comment on the CSC filing with the US Security and Exchange Commission

I would not wish to comment in detail on CSC's filing which is an issue, rightly for them.

The Cost of deploying Cerner Millennium at North Bristol.

6.  Can you explain why the delivery date agreed with BT at the contract "reset" was 4 June 2011?

The original contract did not specify a particular date for the Greenfield deployments. If by "reset" you refer to the Greenfield's Contract Change Note of 1 April 2010 to formalise the date, then the agreed delivery date of 4 June 2011, was committed then.

The date was agreed between the local Trust and BT based upon, amongst other things, the Trust's view of its own readiness.

7.  Why it was then revised to 2 July 2011?

The Trust requested that their deployment phase commence a week later than originally planned and that their Design Review Event be delayed by four weeks.

8.  And why it now appears that there is no agreed delivery date at all?

There is now an agreed date of 8 December 2011 based on a meeting at the Trust on 15 June 2011 between the Trust, BT (the supplier) and their subcontractor Cerner.

9.  Can you also give your best comparison of the cost of deploying the Cerner Millennium system at North Bristol, with the cost to University Hospitals Bristol of deploying the System C Healthcare Medway system outside the National Programme?

I am unable to answer this question at this stage as we do not have information about the System C contract with University Hospitals Bristol and are therefore unable to make an appropriate comparison with the Cerner Millennium contract.

10.  As the Senior Responsible Owner for the National Programme, can you give your explicit undertaking that the North Bristol contract represents value for money for taxpayers?

I believe the contract represents value for money and will provide a valuable service for local clinicians. The specific trusts were fully involved in defining the requirements for, and conducting the reviews of, the BT Business proposal to ensure alignment with their business needs and processes. The trusts have concluded that the requirements and approach will result in a deployable solution capable of meeting local needs. Each trust has also provided a letter of intent, confirming their commitment to the project and that they have the resources to deliver it.

The Full Business Case was supported by the SPflT Programme Board, chaired by the South East SHA Chief Executive (and the Senior Responsible Owner for SPliT), and on 4 February 2010, the NPflT National Programme Board approved it for submission to the Departments own Capital Investment Branch for a value for money assessment. Following a rigorous assessment, the business case was confirmed as affordable, and was approved by HM Treasury.

15 July 2011

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Prepared 3 August 2011