Government trying to fix 'quick deal' for NHS IT2nd March 2010
The BBC has learned that the government is acting to arrange a fast agreement with suppliers for the health service's national programme for IT.
The Conservative Party have said that the deals, which could be signed by the end of March, would "tie the hands" of the next party to come to power after the election.
Health Minister Mike O'Brien said in response that it was "nonsense" for the government to stop negotiating contracts because of the upcoming election.
The £12.7 billion NHS programme for IT was designed to ensure patient records were accessible to every hospital and GP practice in England.
The programme was originally scheduled to be completed in 2006, but is running late and has a new completion date of 2015.
Shadow health minister Stephen O'Brien told the BBC's File on 4 that the government was attempting to arrange the terms of the contracts by the end of March.
He said: "We have heard that there is a process, which is intended to be completed by the end of March, which would have the effect of potentially tying a future government's hands more rigidly than they would already be under the current contracts."
Mike O'Brien said the government wanted to take £600 million off the cost of the NPfIT before it was finished.
"We are certainly looking for a memorandum of understanding by the end of March if we can get that," he added.
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Title: Government trying to fix 'quick deal' for NHS IT
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 14224
Date Added: 2nd Mar 2010