Atos denies that financial issues could have ‘severe’ effects on NHS

  • 20 June 2024
Atos denies that financial issues could have ‘severe’ effects on NHS

French IT giant Atos has denied reports that it is facing financial issues that could severely impact the NHS and other public services. 

In a news story published on 18 June 2024, i reported that the UK government has held secret talks about cashflow issues affecting Atos, which has almost a billion pounds’ worth of UK government contracts, including providing technology services for NHS England and NHS hospitals.

Atos’ work in the UK public sector includes running the technology behind the NHS records in hospitals and the delivery of disability benefit assessments for personal independence payments.

The firm admitted in April 2024 that it was facing around £3.2 billion debt, according to a report in Bloomberg.

Internal government documents, reportedly seen by i,  which were mistakenly published by the Cabinet Office warned of “severe implications” for the continuity of “critical” public services, including  NHS appointments and benefits if the firm’s UK arm collapses.

The government is concerned that there could be disruption to NHS appointments and the sharing of health records if Atos’ financial issues hinder its ability to provide services, i reported.

However a spokesperson for Atos told Digital Health News that the firm is “currently undergoing a financial restructuring and reached an agreement with a Consortium and its creditors which will create a stable financial future globally and in the UK”.

They added: “The provision of services to our customers has remained unaffected and we will continue providing high-quality services to the UK public sector as we have for over 30 years.”

The government is lining up an alternative IT provider that could be called upon to provide these services for major departments such as the NHS, Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions, i reported.

It added that the documents reveal that the government recruited advisory firm PwC to work with the Cabinet Office on a risk assessment project codenamed ‘Project Aztec’.

PwC was asked to assess the likelihood of the contractor surviving its financial difficulties, and if it does not, what the impact of its collapse would be on the running of key services.

A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office told Digital Health News: “We undertake regular reviews of suppliers and on occasion will undertake further due diligence to ensure public services can be maintained in a variety of scenarios.”

They added that a notice about Atos was published in error and has since been republished “in an appropriate form”.

In 2017, Atos was sued by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust in a multi-million pound claim over an alleged failure to deliver adequate services.

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4 Comments

  • The French govt. will try to save viable bits of Atos but probably only the French bits. Atos UK will be on Starmer’s desk from Day 1.

  • All worst case scenario stuff, what if this and that…. Things will probably become clearer after the election on 4th July, things will continue to be unpredictable until the new Government is decided

  • It is critical for the DWP and NHS that Atos are able to stay focused financially.

    • It is critical that the Government fully owns the risks presented by potential failure. You’d expect that necessary controls have been built to reduce the potential of damage. In financial services supplier failure must be tested for and plans built to cope with it, supplier failure was named in the UK risk register last year as a potential risk. Has the government, as the ultimate end owner of the risks presented to DWP and the NHS, actually prepared for this?

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