Despite continued delays in many areas of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), Connecting for Health (CfH) paid its main contractors over £1.5bn in the past financial year, with the lion’s share going to its prime contractors and professional services firms.

Figures obtained by E-Health Insider under the Freedom of Information Act, show that in 2006/2007 the five lead contractors – Computer Sciences Corporation, Fujitsu, BT Global Services, together with BT Syntegra and Accenture – received a total of £1.17bn between them.

The £42m paid to ATOS Origin for the national Choose and Book service takes the total payments to principal contractors to more than £1.2bn last year. This despite very slow progress on the main NHS Care Records Service component of the programme.

The programme’s local service providers led the payments table with CSC, the LSP for the North, East and Midlands, receiving £333m; Fujitsu the LSP for the South of England received £263m; BT Global Services, the LSP in London, meanwhile was paid £216m.

The LSP payments appeared to have little direct correlation with clinical systems delivered by the LSPs, with the possible exception of picture archiving and communications systems (PACS). BT in London, for instance, had delivered only one acute hospital core patient administration system (PAS) by April 2007 – since replaced – while Fujitsu had only completed five installations of its Cerner PAS.

Accenture, which negotiated its exit from the programme as LSP for the North East and Eastern regions for all but PACS in January 2007, still received a £130m payment. Accenture virtually ceased work on hospital systems from early summer 2006, handing over to CSC.

On the main national infrastructure projects BT Syntegra, the arm of BT responsible for the N3 network and national NHS Spine, incorporating the NHS Care Records Service, received £172m.

NPfIT’s chosen clinical software vendor iSoft, since acquired by IBA Health, received a direct payment of £28m from CfH, this despite it being a sub-contractor of CSC.

Isoft told EHI the April 2006 payment relates to an Enterprise Wide Agreement signed with CfH which provided extensions to maintenance agreements and flexible termination provisions with 393 NHS trusts ahead of them joining the NPfIT.

Professional services, consulting and recruitment firms also did rather well from the NHS IT programme last year: Specialist Computing Services led the billing at £17m; ASE was on £16.4m; Deloitte received £14.7m; ATOS Consulting £8.1m above and beyond its Choose and Book billing; and Capgemini £7.5m.

Perhaps the most surprising name on the list of firms to receive more than £100k in professional services fees from CfH was the US consultants Kellogg Root and Brown (KBR), part of the US Haliburton Group. Four years ago KBR was awarded an initial three-year contract for £37m to establish the NPfIT programme management office. But after reported differences sightings of KBR have become rare. Even so they were still paid £7.2m for their troubles last year.