Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust has withdrawn from taking the Lorenzo electronic patient record system from local service provider CSC.

The move casts fresh doubts about the future of the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

Pennine was meant to be the last of four ‘early adopter’ trusts taking Lorenzo from CSC; the LSP for the North, Midlands and East of England.

Installation at Pennine would enable CSC to belatedly meet contractual commitments and unlock milestone payments. Without Pennine, CSC would appear no longer able to fulfil these commitments.

EHI understands that the decision was formally announced today by John Archer, chief executive of Pennine Care, at a meeting with representatives of CSC and NHS Connecting for Health.

A joint trust and DH statement to EHI said: "The delays of the mental health functionality within Lorenzo are very regrettable and the recent decision by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust to withdraw from the Lorenzo Early Adopter Programme was taken after long and careful consideration by the trust. It will now consider other options available in the wider market."

Failure to deliver Lorenzo at Pennine by February left CSC in breach of its contract with NHS Connecting for Health, and the remediation plan that had been agreed.

Asked the CSC contract position last week, ahead of Pennine’s withdrawal, Christine Connelly told EHI: “CSC have given us a remediation plan, they failed to meet it, the national programme board will now make a recommendation for the Secretary of State to decide on.”

As recently as last week CSC told EHI they hoped the trust would go live a matter of weeks. The reasons for the apparent change of mind are not clear. CSC is in the middle of buying iSoft, the company behind Lorenzo, for £117m.

As previously reported by EHI Pennine Care has long harboured doubts on the wisdom of taking Lorenzo, and had withdrawn only to subsequently be persuaded to rethink its position.

In October 2010 EHI reported that Pennine was on the brink of abandoning its Lorenzo implementation, based on concerns on the difficulties of implementing the system. In January the trust postponed implementation of Lorenzo Care management until June.

Since 2009 Pennine Care has been slated to become the crucial fourth ‘early adopter’ NHS trust to take Lorenzo from CSC. Implementing Lorenzo a four sites is the contract threshold that will unlock ‘key bundle milestone (KBM)’ payments to CSC and provide it with authority to deploy more widely in the NHS.

“They are pivotal to the whole key bundle milestone,” said a source only willing to speak anonymously.

The joint statement said: "The Department will continue ongoing discussions with CSC."

Lorenzo has so far been implemented at three ‘early adopter’ sites: University Hospitals of Morecombe Bay, Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust and Bury Primary Care Trust.

Pennine was originally meant to go live on November 2009, then June 2010, then late summer 2010, then 7 February 2011 – all dates missed. No new date has since been set, though the trust was working towards a summer target. “The date was a kind of secret,” said the source.

Read EHI’s editorial on where Pennine Care’s departure leaves the CSC negotiations.