CSC takes on NHS deal despite penalties
25/01/2007
Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) has agreed to pay some £600,000 in compensation to the NHS for the disruption caused by a massive failure at its data centre hosting NHS systems while assuming control over Accenture’s abandoned projects.

The company is leading NHS IT modernization in the North West and West Midlands region of England, running new software systems from a single data centre. Last July the computers in the secure data center failed, as did the automatic switch that was meant to happen to a backup centre.

As a result over 50 NHS organisations in the North West were left without access to their computer systems for two days or more, leaving health staff having to revert to pen and paper. The failure affected the care of about 2,000 patients in Greater Manchester because theatre management and appointment-booking systems couldn't be accessed.

Pennine Care Mental Health Trust, North Cheshire Hospitals and South Manchester Primary Care Trust, which runs clinics at Withington Community Hospital, were said to be the worst affected trusts in this region. At Bolton, computerised theatre management systems were hit.

CSC has now agreed to pay £600,000 towards extra administration costs after staff had to make provisional appointments using paper lists, then match them to computer records once the system was restored. A statement for CSC said: "CSC cannot comment on anything contained within a Board paper that is not CSC's and that we haven't seen a copy of."

Despite the costly failure CSC has won additioanal IT contracts for two more regions of the NHS. Connecting for Health has confirmed that it has transferred contracts to CSC for the North East and Eastern regions of England – contracts that had originally been awarded to Accenture.

"CSC and our alliance members are delighted to have been given the opportunity by the NHS to build on our achievements within the North West and West Midlands to extend our successful development and implementation of the iSOFT solution, to health professionals throughout the North East and East of England," said Guy Hains, President of CSC's European Group.

The transfer of responsibility has ensured 400 jobs in Yorkshire. All 400 Accenture staff in Leeds have transferred to CSC to work on the electronic patient records project.

CSC Vice president Peter Clark, said: "We are delighted that the transfer went so smoothly. We have had three months to ensure everything was in place and that our new staff would be up and running on the first day of their new employment – and ensuring it was "business as usual" as far as our NHS customers were concerned."