The Department of Health has renegotiated a contract with healthcare IT provider CSC that will free up savings of more than £1 billion that can be re-invested into the health service.

Under demolition of the ill-fated National Programme for IT, which was crushed by severe delays and overspend, the DH, the local NHS and Cabinet Office have in discussions with CSC to ensure the existing Electronic Patient Record system (known as Lorenzo) is fit for purpose and provides value for money. 

But under the new agreement, CSC’s exclusive rights to be the sole provider of clinical IT systems in the North, Midlands and East of England have been removed, giving local hospitals and NHS organisations the power to select which systems they use.

"By re-shaping this contract, delays will be avoided in delivering much needed IT systems to the NHS, and will ensure the investment made to date is not wasted," said health minister Simon Burns, commenting on the move.

According to the DH, the deal illustrates a commitment to restoring local control over decision-making and enabling greater choice for NHS organisations.

The money saved from dismantling CSC's monopoly in the ares will be streamed back into NHS, and could potentially pay for half a million extra knee and hip operations, and almost 15,000 extra doctors, it said.