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NHS England’s single financial and accounting system could be delayed by up to six months to give its programme team more time to get it right.

The decision to pull back from the planned live date in April comes against the backdrop of a similar project being deemed “unachievable” by a government watchdog. 

An email sent to senior NHS leaders, seen by HSJ, states the launch date has been put back by at least three, and as much as, six months. Even then the programme team has said it will “need to carefully consider the impact before committing to a new date”.

NHS Shared Business Services, the joint venture between the Department of Health and Social Care and French technology firm Sopra Steria which runs the existing Integrated Single Financial Environment, is being paid more than £100m to deliver the next iteration of the enterprise resource planning system

In April 2023, NHS SBS announced it had picked Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning to build the new system.

HM Revenue and Customs is also trying to deliver a new ERP system, Unity, which covers three government departments, HMRC, Department for Transport, and Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

But in the summer the government’s Infrastructure Project Authority rated this programme as red, meaning “successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable”.

Finally a cure for procurement?

Another national commercial strategy has been launched in an attempt to boost collaboration between local procurement teams.

The new “strategic framework for NHS Commercial” follows a succession of national procurement reviews which have failed to join up working to any great degree.

Chief commercial officer Jacqui Rock told HSJ the latest plan is different from past reviews and strategy documents because it has been developed by both national and local procurement practitioners.

She said: “All of the key interventions for shaping the new approach for the delivery of NHS commercial priorities and the related financial efficiencies have been formulated, signed off and agreed across the entire NHS [commercial] community.

“This couldn’t be from NHSE down – it had to be a community-led [endeavour], which it has been.”

The framework includes 26 priorities to be delivered over the next three to five years, split into four strategic themes.

They cover priorities focused on the national level such as “promoting NHS England’s chief commercial officer as the national executive leader for commercial across the NHS”, as well as the local tier, such as accelerating the rollout of integrated inventory management systems in NHS trusts.

NHSE will produce an implementation plan in the new year.

Also on today

Covid’s harsh lessons underscore the urgency for NHS-led climate action, emphasising efficiency, innovation and immediate intervention to protect lives and the planet, writes Luke O’Shea in Comment. And in Following the Money, Henry Anderson says NHSE will be taking a close look at the fourth set of financial plans submitted by systems this year, after every integrated care system fell behind on their 2023-24 financial plans.