The Department of Health has finally reached a deal with the National Programme for IT’s biggest provider, which it claims will save more than £1 billion and give NHS organisations freedom to choose their own IT providers.

In the conclusion of negotiations which began in 2009, IT company CSC has agreed to give up exclusive rights to supply clinical IT systems in the North, Midlands and East region of the NPfIT project, the department reported today.

CSC was originally contracted to install a care records system at 171 NHS trusts and 4,400 GP practices in the region by 2013-14, in a deal worth £3.1bn.

By March 2011 less than a third of organisations had a care records system installed that met the contracted requirements. Implementation of established systems used by CSC, such as SystemOne for community health services, had been moderately successful. However, there have been significant problems with the company’s Lorenzo product for acute and mental health trusts and it has been successfully installed at just ten NHS trusts.

Earlier this year both parties agreed to outline terms which would have involved just a handful of organisations agreeing to take Lorenzo.

However, this deal stalled and the final agreement now reached removes CSC’s exclusivity rights, meaning no trusts will be required to take on the software.

Health Minister Simon Burns said: “By dismantling the National Programme for IT, this new agreement will save taxpayers over £1 billion which will be reinvested in patient care and front line services. We’ve removed the restrictive, top-down, centralised approach and given the local NHS the power to make their own decisions about which IT systems they use.”

NHS organisations that do choose to take Lorenzo will be entitled to some central funding to support implementation. The exact amount of the saving will depend on how many trusts opt to take Lorenzo.

The new CSC deal extends the contract to 2016.

Mike Lawrie, CSC’s president and chief executive officer said: “This agreement is a significant milestone in our relationship with the National Health Service and represents a renewed commitment by the NHS and CSC to a long-term partnership as well as CSC’s healthcare solutions.”