CQC pulls out of joint plan for cloud-based IT services

Health and social care regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has withdrawn from a joint plan to move health bodies’ central IT systems to cloud-based technologies.
By Tammy Lovell
03:10 AM
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NHS, CQC

In August last year, health secretary Matt Hancock ordered a review of ongoing plans to replace IT systems at the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, NHS Improvement, the Health Research Authority and the CQC.

The IT project, known as the Future Services Programme (FSP), will replace the current contract with French-headquartered Atos, which ends in April 2020.

Following Hancock’s review, NHS England confirmed the FSP would now support Google’s G-suite technologies and other cloud-based services, subject to a pilot phase.

This represents a significant move away from the mainly Microsoft-based systems, which have traditionally been used by NHS organisations.

However, CQC’s board decided to pull out from the FSP in November, amid concerns that it was not appropriate for the needs of the regulator’s staff. 

A CQC spokesperson denied the change of heart was related to Hancock’s review of the contract.

“CQC will not be procuring services via the FSP due to the diverse and different needs of CQC’s user groups, such as the geographical spread of the workforce and remote working needs for inspection staff,” the spokesperson told Healthcare IT News.

He added that CQC’s plans to replace the Atos contract next year were “still in the process of being looked at.”

NHS England told Healthcare IT News that the FSP remained focused on transitioning away from the existing Atos agreement by April 2020.

“As part of this programme is a technology refresh, alternative technologies and ways of deploying technology are currently being trialled to inform the strategy,” a spokesperson said.

They added, that in line with government policy, instead of re-procuring a single provider, the FSP will “be leveraging a range of existing cloud-based contracts, as well as letting a small range of contracts over the next 12 months for the various elements of the service.”

Over the last six months, more than half of the devices across the relevant NHS organisations have been upgraded to the latest cloud-based versions of Office 365 and Windows 10.

The majority of the remainder are due for completion by the end of this financial year, NHS England said.

NHS Improvement and the Health Research Authority declined to comment on the FSP plans.