The Department of Health has announced that it is axing the Enterprise wide Agreement that the NHS has with Novell.

The move follows the decision to scrap the bigger EwA that the health service had with Microsoft in July, and suggests that similar deals could be scrapped as they fall due for renewal.

NHS Connecting for Health signed the EwA with Novell in December 2005. At the time, it said it would make it easier for the NHS to use open source products and software.

Novell said the deal covered three main areas; identity management, desktop management, and server management.

It hoped the deal would encourage the use of open source software in the NHS, encourage trusts to use different server platforms, and move to a managed desktop environment.

The Novell deal was the twelfth EwA to be signed by CfH. At the time, the agency argued that the deals gave the NHS better value for money and reduced the burden on NHS organisations, which would otherwise have to negotiate their own terms and look after their own licensing.

In a statement, the DH said the decision not to renew the deal when it expires on 30 October this year is in line with the current government policy.

“Future investment decisions will be taken at a local level, in line with the proposals set out in the white paper ‘Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS’.

“Novell, CfH and NHS trusts are engaged in constructive discussions to ensure ongoing operation of the Novell installed base, following the transfer of contracts to local ownership.”

The Novell Enterprise wide Agreement that ends in October was a 12 month contract for £7.5m including VAT (£6.4m excluding VAT).

Sean McCarry, Novell’s UK and Ireland country manager, told E-Health Insider: "The failure to renew the contract is obviously disappointing for Novell.

"The NHS is still a very big customer for us, as the service uses more than one million licences. At the moment, we are being very proactive in discussing with each individual trust new discounts, flexibility and how we can best help them."