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Decision expected on £110m NHS computer contract

A judgment is set to be given next week on the award of a £110 million six-year contract for the provision of computer network services to the NHS, following the award by NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) of preferred-bidder status to a rival consortium Capita-Updata Infrastructure.

The case, which was expected to be resolved on Friday, was continued to February 3, and the findings by the Court of Session judge Lord Malcolm are due to be delivered in writing. It centres on the procurement of the Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN), IT infrastructure that digitally unites the NHS with other parts of the public sector.

A spokeswoman for BT welcomed initial findings given last week but declined to give details or comment while the case was still ongoing.

BT issued the legal challenge after accusing the NHS National Services Scotland infrastructure arm of running a "flawed" procurement process. The telecoms group, currently collaborating with the Scottish Government in the national rollout of superfast broadband, said the challenge is "in the public interest".

Delays in the delivery of SWAN are embarrassing for the Scottish Government, which has struggled to make significant progress on most elements of overarching "digital strategy" since its 2011 launch, despite successive documents promising transformative gains. One leading IT expert close to the process said: "There's the Citizen Account for users of the Young Scot card and the National Gazetteer [a unified database of Scottish property addresses] but after that you start to run out of digital achievements."

Another strategy document, A Data Vision for Scotland, was announced in a Scottish Government blog on Friday, which read: "The Data Management Board will finalise its vision for Scotland and publish it in February. Whilst yet to be finalised ... An action plan is being developed which will support delivery of the vision across Scotland."

A selection of previous strategy documents includes: Scotland's Digital Future (March 2011); Scotland's Digital Future: Infrastructure Action Plan (January 2012); Digital Scotland 2020: Achieving World-Class digital infrastructure: (February 2013); and Scotland's Digital Future - High Level Operating Framework (June 2013).

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