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500 Brit techies at risk over NHS IT fiasco

Contractor CSC cuts staff after UK ditches duff patient record system

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Up to 500 IT workers could lose their jobs over CSC's botched computer system for the NHS, which is costing everyone involved with the fiasco dearly.

UK staff received an email that informed them the company had entered a 90-day consultation period to figure out how to reduce the number of people on the project - which could be downsized after the biz bungled the rollout of the electronic patient records system it was contracted to provide.

The firm is trying for a combination of reassignments to other projects and voluntary redundancies, but is prepared to sack staff if necessary.

"It is hoped to achieve a significant reduction without the need for compulsory redundancies," the email, seen by The Register, said.

CSC told El Reg that it regretted having to take this step, but it was necessary because its NHS workload was getting smaller. The US firm is involved with Blighty's health service on a number of IT projects, including the Lorenzo computer system that was supposed to manage patient records.

"This action is necessary mainly because we have now substantially completed many key development activities with NHS, and are now moving away from a focus on development work," the firm said in an emailed statement.

CSC said it had about 1,700 staff from its 98,000 worldwide working in its UK healthcare business, so the reduction will be almost a third of its staff here. However, the firm insisted it was still committed to its healthcare work in the country and would be supportive of staff while working on the lay-offs.

"We will provide support to help ensure that anyone leaving the business does so in the best possible position. Our employees will naturally be concerned during this period of uncertainty for them, which is why, throughout the consultation period, we will be engaging with them at every opportunity and providing as much information as we can to support them," CSC said.

"CSC remains fully committed to healthcare globally and in the UK in particular. We are confident that these carefully targeted and managed reductions will not impact the overall quality of service we provide to our existing NHS customers."

Earlier this week, CSC confirmed that it would be writing off $1.5bn over its contract for the National Programme for IT in the UK, that was supposed to see the NHS kitted out with a unified system for health care records.

In September last year, the health secretary scrapped the project after billions of taxpayer's money had been spent because CSC and its local partner BT had failed to fully implement the new system.

However, the government had already committed to contracts with the companies and has been trying to extricate itself from them ever since. ®

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