The Health and Social Care Information Centre is concerned that its reputation is “at risk” after the Public Accounts Committee grilled officials on NPfIT last month.

The HSCIC is not the only organisation worried about its reputation. A document sent to MP Stephen Barclay reveals that the Department of Health spent more than £73,000 on external consultants to help senior civil servants prepare for their appearance at the committee.

“The DH confirmed to me in a letter this morning that it spent more than £73,000 on external consultants in preparing for just one hearing of the Public Accounts Committee,” said Barclay in a PAC meeting last week.

"That was 52.5 days of external consultancy spend, initially at a cost of £1,714 a day, and then reduced to £1,000 a day.”

A report presented to the HSCIC June board meeting by Tom Denwood, the national local service provider programme director, says he is concerned about two “key risks” following the PAC meeting.

The first is “a reputational risk for HSCIC, by virtue of its ongoing association with the LSPs (Local Service Providers)”.

However, the risk is not just limited to the PAC hearing, as the HSCIC also supports the senior responsible owner and customer trusts delivering the remaining obligations and exit from the contract.

“These are challenging elements to deliver and therefore the reputation risk is on-going until 2015-2016,” says the report.

The HSCIC is also worried that the PAC probe will have implications for its review of benefits of the LSP programmes.

The report highlights a risk in the centre’s role in supporting others to deliver benefits as an ‘honest broker’ to ensure contracts get delivered.

“HSCIC has been asked to conduct a review of how benefits are delivered, with a view to supporting trusts to improve their realisation and reporting and therefore the overall cost/benefit of the LSP programmes,” it says.

It adds that there is a probability that the HSCIC will be commissioned by NHS England to provide a similar role to support benefits realisation for other programmes delivered by the centre.

“HSCIC needs to ensure ongoing clarity of accountability with the SROs and chief executives of NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts, reserving its role purely as one of facilitation and support,” it says.

The report adds that there is no financial risk for the centre as the contracts are owned by the DH.

Ahead of the PAC meeting earlier this month, the National Audit Office published its review of the final benefits statement for NPfIT, which showed that for three of the programmes, 98% of benefits were still to be realised.

There have been four PAC probes into NPfIT since the programme was launched in 2002 to create a national infrastructure for IT in the NHS.

Only a limited number of trusts received the strategic systems the programme was due to deliver and in its previous report, the NAO concluded NPfIT would never deliver the objectives it set.

Chair of the PAC, Margaret Hodge used last month’s meeting to question whether benefits would ever be realised.

“You are expecting benefits by the time we are all dead of £10.7 billion, which looks to be plucked out of the air,” she told officials.