Contract notice cites ‘extreme urgency’ in funding Silicon Practice for two weeks to avoid its software services closing
NHS England agreed to pay software firm Silicon Practice £160,000 to cover its costs providing GPs with websites and online consultation services for two weeks, to allow the financially troubled company to transfer or close its services in a managed way.
The contract was agreed on 16 February outside usual procurement procedures, with NHS England justifying this on the basis of ‘extreme urgency’.
“The company is in financial difficulty and administrators had recommended immediate cessation of software services to their general practice customers,” the NHS said in a contract award notice. “This would have disrupted provision of general practice services to patients and would have had a detrimental effect on patient care.”
The funding was designed to cover two weeks of costs maintaining Silicon Practice’s GP services “in order to enable a managed wind down and/or hand over of services”. Eleven days later, on 27 February, the company entered administration and was immediately acquired by school and healthcare app provider Schappit, which trades as Piota.
“Schappit Ltd will continue to deliver services to existing Silicon Practice customers without disruption and will retain the Silicon Practice name and branding,” the company announced in early March.
The announcement said that NHS England had carried out due diligence on Schappit as a an appropriate supplier under its online and video consultation framework and that its commercial delivery team had been involved.
PublicTechnology has asked NHS England to comment.
The emergency funding provided by the NHS has comes several months after Cabinet Office was understood to have provided financial support to keep public sector cloud specialist UKCloud running last October when the company entered liquidation. While this meant organisations had time to migrate, documents seen by PublicTechnology showed some being charged seven times more than their contracts.
An updated statement published by the Insolvency Service on 22 February said that all of UKCloud’s former customers had moved to other suppliers.