CSC is funding the incentive payments to trusts that take Lorenzo under its interim agreement with the Department of Health.

A 31 March deadline to receive the £1m payment, revealed to EHI in an interview last December, has also been called a “CSC fantasy” by the DH.

The interim deal, signed in September last year, removed CSC’s exclusive right as IT systems provider to the North, Midlands and East of England.

Under the new agreement, trusts that take the company’s electronic patient record system will be offered central funding for the software and deployment costs.

Last year, CSC sales director Graham Frost told EHI there was a 31 March deadline for trusts to get a £1m incentive payment for “initial out-of-pocket expenses”.

In an exclusive interview with EHI Tim Donohoe, the senior responsible owner for local service provider programmes at the DH, described the March deadline as “CSC’s fantasy”.

“From our perspective there was never a 31 March deadline. It was never going to happen like that. It’s fascinating to look back and read what Graham Frost said. Clearly not views that were shared by us.”

Frost left CSC shortly after the interview. On several occasions since, EHI has attempted to get more information on the deadline and the funds given to trusts both from CSC and the DH.

After the comment by Donohoe, a CSC spokesperson told EHI: “We never considered March 2013 as a deadline.”

She added that the value of the incentive fund would differ from trust to trust.

However, The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust’s business case states that it expects to receive £1m from the fund.

Donohoe also referred to the value of the payment, which will be given to the first nine trusts to take Lorenzo.

“The £1m- that’s separate money coming from CSC,” he explained.

“The point of the incentive fund is not a signing-on bonus, it’s meant to offset the trust’s costs, and it’s to incentivise the trust from CSC’s perspective to sign-off the deployment as complete when it is actually complete.”

Donohoe added that no trust would be given the entire fund until it had successfully deployed the EPR.

“Our view of that was that this was money which otherwise would be lost to the public purse, but I guess we didn’t think about how it would be perceived, which is why I’m very keen that it’s not seen as us pushing Lorenzo,” he said.

“We saw it as minimising risk for trusts that would embark upon an ambitious project.”

The interim deal resulted in several trusts putting their EPR procurements on hold while they evaluated the CSC offer. Suppliers expressed concerned that the deal was hurting their business and called the deal anti-competitive.

Donohoe told EHI that he understood why suppliers were aggravated, but there was a level of misunderstanding about how big an impact the CSC deal would have on procurements.

“I fully understand the suppliers’ position, but we’re never getting from where we were to where we want to be in a few years’ time without some short-term impact on the market,” he said.

“No suppliers have formally challenged that and we continue to work with our suppliers on how we collectively get to a better future for the suppliers and the NHS, which is where we’d all like to be.”

In December last year, CSC set up a user group to ensure trusts had a greater influence on shaping the development of Lorenzo.

“We want it [Lorenzo] to be useful to the NHS and we’ve forced them to create a user group,” said Donohoe.

“We were very keen that they started to act as a supplier to the NHS instead of a supplier to DH.”

He also revealed that the government was working on a revised project agreement with the company.

“The revised project agreement represents a legal, tidying up exercise of the existing contract with CSC. It will be subject to cross-government approval, which we expect to seek in the summer.”

Four trusts have so far been approved by the NME Programme Board to deploy Lorenzo under the new deal.

Donohoe expected no more than 20 trusts to take the system before the contract expires in 2016.