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By | Kelly Fiveash 22nd August 2013 13:24

Total cost of that axed NHS IT FIASCO to taxpayers: £10.1bn

Patient records system contract still grinding to a halt

The shambolic nationwide NHS patient record computer system, abandoned by Whitehall in 2011, will ultimately cost UK taxpayers a staggering £10.1bn.

US-headquartered Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), alongside UK telecoms giant BT, failed to fully implement the massive project, sparking widespread derision before the plug was pulled. The electronic health care record system was given a green light by the Department of Health in 2002.

But by August 2011, a damning report by Parliament's Public Accounts Committee urged then Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to scrap the system after £7.3bn from the public purse had already been spent.

By September of that year the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) was axed. However, a few months after that decision was made, CSC claimed that it would continue to provide electronic patient records in some capacity to the NHS until 2017. The contract extension was said to cost a further £2bn to Brits.

The DoH defended the deal at the time by arguing that ending the contract with the company could, remarkably, be more expensive than allowing it to complete the bungled project.

Last year, CSC and the UK government finally reached a truce over the company's central patient database cock-up with both sides agreeing to a more flexible contract until 2016 and to shelve any potential litigation.

According to ehealth Insider, the final cost of NPfIT will cost £10.1bn to its "end of life", which is presumably 2017 when the government finally wiggles itself loose of the disastrous contract inked with CSC. The magazine obtained the figure from the DoH following a Freedom of Information request. In 2008, the UK government's National Audit Office reckoned the project would cost the public £12.7bn, but by 2012, this figure had been downgraded to £9.6bn.

The project was scrapped only after the government confessed that it had finally spotted the "weaknesses of a top-down, centrally-imposed IT system". ®

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