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By | Paul Kunert 31st January 2013 16:54

NHS IT bods 'walk out' in pay row with crashed UK tech giant 2e2

Outsourcer's collapse hits hospital tech dept, claim insiders

A number of contractors from collapsed UK tech giant 2e2 refused to turn up for work in NHS IT today after their January pay was withheld, it is claimed.

Debt-crippled 2e2 Group went into administration this week and put staff wages under "review", but its new handlers assured health service bosses that hospitals are a top priority. 2e2 is contracted to provide IT services to various NHS trusts.

The company's public and private sector customers are now braced for any fallout from the implosion of the integrator's UK operations on 28 January, and are liaising with administrator FTI Consulting.

The fallen channel titan also axed 319 workers from its top ranks to frontend and backroom staff right across Blighty.

FTI told employees that January's pay cheques, which are due today, as well as outstanding business expense claims are being reviewed. Sources speaking to The Channel claimed it was this setback that drove staff running IT services at Sussex Partnership NHS Trust (SPNT) to down tools.

SPNT signed a seven-year outsourcing contract with 2e2 in April that was worth £5m in its first year and £36.8m in total - the largest job on 2e2's books. Contacts close to the 40 bods working on that NHS contract told us this morning that contractors and permanent 2e2 employees still had not been paid despite assurance from FTI.

"The programme director was on site and a couple of desktop [services] people, only a handful," said one well-placed source.

"The administrator has failed in its commitment to the trust to provide continuity of service and people," he claimed.

It is understood 2e2's staff agencies can expect "imminent" purchase orders from FTI, but the administrator has yet to confirm that permanent staffers will be paid.

"2e2 staff are committed to the NHS but are inhibited by wage and non-essential travel being cancelled", said one person familiar with the matter.

A spokesman at SPNT told The Channel: "FTI Consulting has given us their assurances that the NHS will be viewed as a priority. We continue to work with 2e2 to ensure service continuity."

He was unable to say how many 2e2 employees made it into work this morning at Swandean Hospital in Worthing where the trust is based. While on the phone to us, the PR man walked into a room of people that greeted him and he told us these were 2e2-supplied techies.

The NHS North London Cluster - covering Barnet, Camden, Islington, Haringey and Enfield - also outsourced its IT department to 2e2 via commissioning bodies. A spokeswoman for NHS North Central London said it was aware of 2e2's financial woes.

"We are assessing the implications of this for our organisations and working closely with 2e2 and the administrator to ensure service continuity," she said.

Some folks working on smaller contracts said they have been canned and claimed they will not be paid.

Resourcing and professional services agency Populo Admin wrote to its contractors doing work for 2e2 confirming it was unable to agree "continuity of contract", adding: "As a result, we are required to terminate the existing contract with you."

FTI has refused to comment. ®

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