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NHS claws back £170m refund on duff IT system

'Lorenzo' snake oil found to be worthless

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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 the £200 million payment to CSC on, aptly, 1 April this year. The money was intended to cover the projected costs of the Lorenzo project in 2012, but after the NHS declared themselves unsatisfied with the progress of the work on 30 September, they killed the project and requested the taxpayers' dosh back.

Some parts of the NHS's National Programme for IT (NPfIT) commissioned in 2002 have been salvaged but the bulk of the project has been ditched. The Lorenzo project was one of the programme's big disappointments. It was supposed provide a unified system for sharing patient care records and was slated to be delivered in 2004. It was delayed till 2008, but it has taken until this year for the project to be finally killed off, with a report from the Major Projects Authority putting the final nails in the coffin.

It's not just the Department of Health that is complaining: CSC's American shareholders have entered into litigation against the company for failing to acknowledge the problems earlier. Their action claims that CSC made "fraudulent statements about performance" and had misrepresented the state of the contract to Wall Street and to investors since 2008.

CSC continues to turn out other projects for the NHS including IT systems for community and child health trusts, ambulance trusts and GPs in the North, Midlands and East regions. ®

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