The Department of Health will not pull the plug on its contract with electronic care record supplier CSC, although trusts will gain more freedom over which IT systems they buy, HSJ has been told.

An announcement on the future of the National Programme for IT is due in September, following a review of the CSC contract by the Cabinet Office’s Major Projects Authority.

CSC supplies electronic patient records to trusts in three of the five regions designated by the programme: the north, Midlands and the east, but its implementation of iSoft’s Lorenzo software has been blighted by delays. Its contract has been under renegotiation throughout 2011.

A DH spokeswoman told HSJ the NPfIT contracts had “not responded to needs”, and that the announcement would be about “how we get more value for money out of those contracts”.

But, she added, the solution would not involve terminating the £3bn CSC contract.

“It is not as simple as pulling the plug and walking away,” she said.

Former chief information officer Christine Connelly told the public accounts committee in May that the contract would be more expensive to get out of that to let it run its course.

Instead, the spokeswoman said, the announcement would be about “giving trusts greater flexibility”.

Although trusts are able to procure IT systems more cheaply through the national programme, they are also free to buy other systems.

The NPfIT contract in the south of England supports this. While the main supplier is BT, installing Cerner’s Millennium system, a range of other patient record systems can be also bought through the additional supply capability and capacity framework.

If the CSC deal is renegotiated along similar lines, it could involve buying fewer record systems at a lower cost, which would release additional funds to help trusts buy other systems individually.

The PAC yesterday condemned the NPfIT as “unworkable”, and attacked the NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson in his role as “senior responsible owner” for the project.