Siemens Healthcare Services has dumped the OpenPAS patient administration system inherited from its takeover of ICL in 1996.
The Department of Health had commissioned the project as a successor to ICL's IRC-PAS product, which is still used by about 40 trusts.
But OpenPAS has never been released, and the only live pilot - at West Middlesex University Hospital - was suspended in May.
Siemens admitted last month that OpenPAS was outdated, that few IRC users were committed to buying it, and that its time and cost estimates had slipped badly and were at 'further significant risk'. This made it 'no longer economically viable for customers and Siemens alike'.
The company will adapt its existing Camis PAS - which has six UK customers - as an alternative IRC upgrade and adapt the OpenGuide user interface for use with Camis, to minimise trusts' re-training burden.
Siemens Healthcare Services managing director Robin Williams claimed that Camis PAS will fulfil the 'original spirit' of ICL's agreement with the DoH while being cheaper for Siemens to maintain. 'What the DoH is committed to is getting effective IT solutions for the NHS, ' said Mr Williams. 'We are negotiating with individual trusts about the possibility of lost investments, but we are committed to providing a solution on the same terms as before. I don't think complaints will emerge.'
Frank Hazlehurst, information services director at Scunthorpe and Goole trust, which has already begun to upgrade from IRC to OpenPAS , said he would be invoking penalty clauses in the trust's contract with Siemens - though that will not recover the IT department's training and project planning costs.
The question now was whether NHS procurement rules allowed IRC users to move to Camis without putting the contract out to tender again, he said.
Siemens' move is part of a general rethink of its health IT products.