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02.07.15

HSCIC procurement mistakes cost millions

Mistakes made by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) in procuring and managing an IT system to extract data from GP practices cost millions of pounds in write-offs and settlements, the National Audit Office has found.

The NAO investigated the procurement of the General Practice Extraction Service (GPES), an IT system designed to allow NHS organisations to extract data from all GP practice computer systems in England. The data is to be used to monitor quality, plan and pay for health services and help medical research.

The auditors found that the project has been significantly delayed and many customers have yet to receive data. The original business case said the service would start in 2009-10, but it took until April 2014 for the HSCIC to provide the first GPES data extract to a customer.

Mistakes were uncovered in the original procurement and contract management, and these contributed to losses of public funds, through asset write-offs and settlements with suppliers. 

The total expected cost of the GPES programme increased from £14m to £40m during the planning and procurement stage. Further cost increases have been smaller, but the project has had at least £5.5m of write-offs and delay costs.

According to the NAO the need for the service remains and further public expenditure is needed to improve GPES or replace it.

The auditors believe that it is unlikely that GPES in its current form can provide the NHS-wide service planned. So far only one customer, NHS England has received data from the system. 

The time needed to design a new type of extract and restrictions in the contracts severely limits HSCIC’s ability to provide data to those who request it, the report says.

These issues were brought to the attention of the NAO through its financial audit of the HSCIC. Auditors observed during their visit that the system was not working as expected and that additional costs had been incurred through a settlement with one of the main suppliers, Atos IT Services UK Ltd.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

Linda   13/07/2015 at 11:01

No other organisation would tolerate this. All those involved should be held to account. We are all being asked to make cuts and efficiency savings lets start with those in procurement who seem to repeatedly get it wrong at a cost of millions of pounds.

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