back to article NHS claws back £170m refund on duff IT system

An American IT company has returned £170 million to the NHS after a project they promised to deliver was declared impossible. Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) coughed up the refund last week after finally admitting that it could never deliver the Lorenzo computer system it was contracted to create for the NHS. The NHS made …


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  1. auburnman
    Thumb Up

    Nice to see

    Some slightly good news in amongst the recent spending disasters; here's hoping the NHS get to put the dosh to something useful and necessary that is delivered on time and does the job for a change.

    A man can dream.

  2. Rameses Niblick the Third (KKWWMT) Silver badge

    I want some of that...

    So this company has in effect made £30 million for doing the square root of sod all? Where can I get that kind of work?!?

    1. LuMan


      "So this company has in effect made £30 million for doing the square root of sod all? Where can I get that kind of work?!?"

      Simply become the CEO of HP!

    2. Starkadder

      Not so

      You are confusing effort with result. The company has produced nothing useful or usable, but that does not mean that scores of folk in cubicles on CSC's payroll haven't been working on the project.

  3. Stu J


    So they conned the NHS into giving them £200M, and they've only refunded £170M.

    So actually, they're £30M up. For lying.

    1. Admiral Grace Hopper

      "So actually, they're £30M up. For lying."

      Isn't business fun? I'm sure that if they could have avoided returning refunding the £170m thery would have, no matter what they'd delivered.

      Any news on how the companies kicked off the NHS money-pile earlier are getting with their legal quest for compensation for the work that they didn't deliver? Just wondered.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      I would imagine that being a US company, they were paid in Dollars, the value of which has fallen against the Pound since.

      1. Starkadder


        The dollar has risen by 7 cents (from $1.61 to $1.54 against the pound) since 1 April.

    3. Kevin Johnston

      be fair now...

      that £30 million is over 6 months so comes out at £5million per month. For a company the size of CSC it probably doesn't cover much more than cheap caviar and foie gras for their crackers at tea break.

    4. laird cummings

      Not a-typical

      This *is* CSC we're talking about, here.

      Frankly, I'm a bit startled they 'fessed up and returned anything at all. Normally, they do a song-n-dance routine that would bedazzle even Hollywood, and when the lights go out, the cash is gone and so are all the guilty parties.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It took till 2008 to work this out?

    Having been at one of the companies placing a bid when the bidding for this took place, and having discussion with a couple of the bid leaders, the commercial terms and ability of local NHS trusts to change the requirements as they saw fit, at any time, caused no end of headaches and resulted in a decision that the business was not a good one to win...

    No wonder this ended up as being impossible. It was pretty obvious many moons past...

  6. JDX Gold badge

    £30 million for doing the square root of sod all?

    They've been working for years, with presumably a large team in place. I doubt many of us software developers would agree to pay back an entire project budget either in similar circumstances, it would mean going bust.

    Considering a large part of the blame has to rest on the NHS/government to begin with, getting such a large part back is a good achievement.

    1. commonsense
      Thumb Down


      You walk into a shop, you order an item for £200 to pick up tomorrow. Go back tomorrow and the shop tells you they can't provide the item. They offer you £170 refund, because the shop keeper has to be paid for his work.

      Does that sound right to you?

      1. jm83

        better analogy...

        You commission a painting (self portrait for instance) spend hours with the artist, agreeing changes here and there, end up unhappy with the half finished product and agree to go your seperate ways.

      2. Jamie 25

        Does that sound right to you?

        You go back to the shop and they give you what you asked for, you tell them that's not what you wanted......

        Does that sound right to you?

      3. Rameses Niblick the Third (KKWWMT) Silver badge




        How exactly do you come to the conclusion that it is the NHS / Governments fault that this company could not build the software? Shifting goalposts perhaps? Badly defined goals? Maybe the NHS constantly updating the product spec?

        We don't know if any of these three things is true, but if any are, lets face it, thats still a fail on the part of the company for not defining the contract well enough and the project manager / customer liaison not keeping the customer to the agreed spec.

        So yes, £30 million for the square root of sod all, and possibly being incompetent as well.

  7. CappyC
    IT Angle

    NHS Wales

    NHS Wales already has a system that shares medical records instantly throughout Wales and it works perfectly. I am sure someone from NHS England would have made some enquiries so was probably jobs for the old boys club... Whats £200 million between old school chums?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      And the Welsh Demographics Service hooks into the NHS Spine as well...but the whole of Wales has a smaller population that the Birmingham Metropolitan Area....its a heck of a difference.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "NHS Wales already has a system that shares medical records instantly throughout Wales and it works perfectly."

      Ah yes, I do believe that's called a fax machine.

      That's certainly how I've always seen local hospitals, GPs and private-sector speak to each other...

  8. Colin Millar

    Was it the magic pixie dust or the flying carpets?

    That they couldn't deliver

    Only Govt IT Departments could employ people so dumb that they could actually commission an impossibile system

    1. CappyC


      NHS Wales are already doing it. Its only impossible if you dont know what youare doing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Only Govt IT Departments could employ people so dumb that they could actually commission an impossibile system"

      I truly wish that this was the case. The only difference in the private sector is that you can hide it better.

      Details withheld for reasons of commercial confidence.

  9. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Stage Payments?

    It's astonishing that the company were paid so much before delivering anything. A good contract will only pay a small percentage to the supplier to cover start up costs and nothing more until some sort of value has been seen to have been delivered (e.g. system requirements analysis, design reviews, acceptance tests, etc). Where are the contracts managers in the NHS?

    1. BoldMan

      Well knowing the size of some of these deals maybe that WAS only a small percentage...

  10. TeeCee Gold badge

    "CSC continues to turn out other projects for the NHS..."

    Which is the problem at the root of the woes of government IT.

    The way it works in the real world is: "You screw us, we shitlist you.".

    IIRC, this did once happen when the previous Tory administration actually *did* shitlist one of the big consultancies, causing much smacking of gobs and gasting of flabbers at the time. Again IIRC, the firm in question promptly opened its "political donations" wallet to Bliar's mob and got their noses back into the trough come the next election. Nothing like a nice, fat bribe to focus the minds of politicians.....

  11. JDX Gold badge


    That has absolutely nothing to do with commissioning a bespoke product. If you pay anyone to create something bespoke for you and they put a lot of work into it, they will fight very hard to retain some share of the cost if you cancel the order.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never saw that coming.

    1. PM creates pork barrel project to make his legacy.

    2. Quickly the incumbent Party realises spending billions on employing a few techies and thousands of care in the community types is a good way of getting votes.

    3. Chancellor keeps it going, for votes.

    4. Someone also notices that if it goes live, corrupt Muslim doctors will tell their friends at the mosque, that their wife or daughter's on the pill, or has had a secret STD, or has had an abortion, and that will result in murder to preserve the family honour.

    5. Since the election is now over, the project can be canned by the new government who didn't start it.

    6. Go to step 1.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will they be banned from future projects?

    Enough said.

    1. Death_Ninja


      Do you mean the government or CSC?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        This post contains letters and a period.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They're both to blame.

    CSC for not coming clean about their unlikelihood to deliver sooner while hoping to be able to keep sucking on the teat for as long as possible, and the NHS for writing/signing contracts so poor that missing project milestones don't result in financial penalties.

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