BT are to launch a damages claim against the NHS in Scotland after losing a legal bid challenging a contract awarded for a new IT network.
Last week the Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled in favour of a bid by NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) to allow it to award the IT contract to its preferred bidder after BT had called for the process to be re-run.
BT requested leave to appeal the decision, but yesterday announced it would not take this forward. However, it said it would now be seeking damages over the way the contract process was run, which could potentially cost taxpayers millions of pounds.
BT said it could not make any further comment on the level of damages it would now seek.
NHS NSS has spent the last year negotiating with potential bidders for the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN) – a new IT network which it is hoped will be adopted by public sector bodies across the country, including the NHS and councils.
But BT launched legal action after it appeared it would not be awarded the contract, calling for the procurement to be re-run or for damages of £20 million.
The decision by BT not to appeal the court’s ruling that the process should not be re-run means NSS can now award the contract to their preferred bidder, Capita-Updata.
NSS had previously raised concerns that the delay in awarding the contract was costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds.
A spokesman for NHS National Services Scotland said: “We are pleased that we are now able to proceed with the contract award and get moving with the implementation of the Scottish Wide Area Network.
“This is great news for the Scottish taxpayer, and anyone who uses public services, whether in schools, councils, hospitals or elsewhere.
“The SWAN project is a major step forward in Scottish public sector infrastructure which will create savings and deliver an excellent service.”
In a statement BT said: “BT has chosen not to appeal Lord Malcolm’s decision to lift the suspension.
“We are pleased that Lord Malcolm, following the hearing in January, found in our favour with respect to the primary argument and agreed that the procurement regulations had been breached by NHS NSS.
“Though BT’s primary aim was always to seek a re-run of the procurement process, the case will now proceed as a damages claim, Lord Malcolm having found damages to be an appropriate remedy for BT to seek for that breach.
“We believe that it will now be unclear whether the most economically advantageous tender will be awarded. We believe our proposal offered excellent value and minimal risk to Scottish tax payers.
“Our bid was more than £10 million below the price for which maximum points could be awarded under the NSS scoring process.”