Microsoft’s Enterprise-wide Agreement with the NHS has expired and is yet to be resigned with NHS Connecting for Health.
The rolling contract, which has been in place since 2001, expired at the end of May. As a result, a number of benefits associated with the agreement have been being removed.
The Microsoft NHS Resource Centre website says the company hopes to have more news on 15 June.
In the meantime, benefits such as the Home User Programme, which gives NHS staff free Office software, and the Employee Purchase Programme, which gives them discounts on Microsoft products, have been withdrawn.
The original contract provided desktop capabilities, anti-virus technology and updates to all Microsoft operating systems across primary care groups, acute, ambulance, community and mental health trusts, strategic health authorities, palliative care units and the Department of Health.
More recent deals have included a £40m investment by Microsoft in a Common User Interface programme to make technology easier to deploy and more user-friendly for NHS staff.
A statement on the NHS Resource Centre argues that the EwA is better than trusts purchasing Microsoft products with local budgets because “they get a substantially better price” and it enables a “more speedily process.”
The statement adds: “Organisations do not need to order licences for any of these products. A single annual transaction between the NHS and Microsoft replaces the many tens of thousands of individual orders that would otherwise be needed. NHS organisations are immediately covered for legal use of these products.”
Similar contracts with Wales and Scotland expired last year, which resulted in similar benefits being taken away. The two countries have also lost the free online training courses that are run on the NHS Resource Centre.
Microsoft declined to comment on the status of the negotiations and what a failure to resign the contract would potentially mean for NHS users.
However, a post on the website says it is “hoping to have further information on this agreement by the 15 June and will post all information on the NHS Resource Centre.”
EHI asked for a statement from CfH, but had not received it at time of publishing. A statement from Informing Healthcare, the Welsh NHS IT agency, said it was still looking at its options.
"We are currently considering our future licensing options for desktop products; this may not be with Microsoft," the statement said. "This includes looking at the possibility of a pan-Public Sector Enterprise Agreement for Wales, which supports the ‘One Wales’ approach."
With regards to current licensing, the statement said: "NHS Wales has signed its own Select agreement with Microsoft, which provides a managed framework for licence purchase. Local health boards are procuring licences through this agreement as required."
Disclaimer: EHI provides editorial services to the Microsoft NHS Resource Centre.