NHS signs £30m deal for ongoing support of Covid testing digital platforms
Accenture picked as supplier of choice for two-year contract that will cover support and ‘disaggregation’ activities
The NHS has signed a £30m deal for support, development – and “disaggregation” – services for the digital systems that underpin the UK’s coronavirus testing regime.
Newly published commercial information reveals that NHS Digital recently signed a contract with Accenture through which the professional services heavyweight will provide “services for the ongoing maintenance and continuous development of [the] core testing platform in connection with the Covid-19 NHS Test and Trace programme”.
The deal was awarded through the fourth lot of the Technology Services 3 framework, which is intended to enable public sector entities procure support for “major services transformation programmes”.
The contract notice revealing the signing of the deal indicates that Accenture will assist with ongoing “disaggregation of the current digital test platform and related services”.
The consultancy takes over from Deloitte as the main provider of support for the platforms in question – although both firms have multiple other multimillion-pound deals in place related to software services and business support for the Test and Trace scheme.
In June 2020, Deloitte won a contract through the G-Cloud 11 framework to serve as the NHS’s primary partner for the “digital solution design, build and live service of a digital platform, ordering portals, and mobile applications to support the Covid-19 national test Service”.
That deal ran until well in 2021, and was worth over £50m to the consultancy firm – as was a subsequent contract that ran from 1 July 2021 until 31 March 2022, and through which “service continuity, transition and exit [services]… includes the provision of services to disaggregate the solution provided by Deloitte, removing interdependencies and facilitating the formation of independent services capable of transition to replacement suppliers”.
It is not clear when exactly the new contract with Accenture was signed, but the order form reveals that the engagement came into “retrospective effect” from 13 December 2021. The deal will last for an initial term of 25 months, concluding on 12 January 2024. The contract can then be extended for two further periods of one year each.
The £30m value of the deal – when compared with the cumulative £100m-plus spent with Deloitte over less than two years – speaks to the declining demands being placed on the digital infrastructure that supports the UK’s Covid testing programme. From the beginning of last month, the government ended the provision of free PCR and lateral-flow tests for most people across England.
Free testing remains available for people in a few high-risk environments – such as prisons, hospitals, and care homes. Outside of which, citizens wishing to test themselves or someone else for coronavirus must now buy tests from pharmacies or online.
The contract to support core digital systems for the testing regime comes on top of two deals for CMR software and integration services for the UK’s “trace and contain” operations won by Accenture in October. The 18-month contracts were worth a cumulative £18.7m to the consultancy – the corporate headquarters of which were moved from Bermuda to Dublin in 2009.
Those two deals are running in parallel to two other related software development and business services contracts collectively worth £26.5m and awarded to Deloitte.
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