The Department of Health’s dispute with Fujitsu over the company’s exit from the National Programme for IT is still ongoing – and could last another two years, according to a news agency.

The legal dispute over Fujitsu’s departure as local service provider for the South of England in 2008 was widely thought to have been settled in 2014.

At the time, media outlets followed the Telegraph and the BBC in reporting that the DH had lost its case with the company, which the Commons Public Accounts Committee had been told was seeking £700 million for lost business.

However, neither the DH nor the company confirmed the reports, with both issuing statements saying that they did not comment on contractual disputes.

Now, the Reuters news agency has learned, via a briefing with Duncan Tait, Fujitsu’s head of Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, that talks on a settlement are still continuing.

“We are still in the arbitration process,” he told the briefing. “We would hope that would conclude within the next two years or so.”

The DH confirmed this to Digital Health News, issuing a statement saying: “The dispute with Fujitsu regarding the termination in 2008 of its contract to provide electronic patient record systems in the South of England is on-going and has not been settled, so it is inappropriate for us to comment further.”

The ongoing negotiations are likely to be over how much of the £700 million that Fujitsu is seeking the government will have to pay.

They will be adding to the legal bill for the case, which had reached £31.5 million when the PAC held its hearing in 2013.

The LSP contract for the South was the last to be awarded by NPfIT, which was set up in 2002 to create NHS infrastructure and services such as e-booking, and to deliver electronic patient records to health economies, through national contracts with large suppliers.

The £896 million contract should have seen Fujitsu deliver IDX and then a version of Cerner Millennium to trusts across the region; but the programme ran into significant issues and delays.

In 2007, contract renegotiations between what had become NHS Connecting for Health and the company began, but after several attempts at a ‘reset’ it proved impossible to reach agreement.

Fujitsu then told eHealth Insider (Digital Health News’ predecessor) that it was withdrawing from the negotiations, and NHS CfH said that it was going to end the contract early, by issuing a notice of termination.

BT subsequently took over the LSP work, moving trusts onto the same version of Millennium that it had installed in London, and undertaking three ‘greenfield’ deployments.

Trusts that received nothing from the programme were subsequently able to access some money for IT systems via the South Acute Programme, which set up six collaborative groups to procure EPRs, e-prescribing systems, and other software.