Dr Foster Intelligence: a joint venture between the Information Centre and Dr Foster LLP, fortieth report of session 2006-07, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence

The Department of Health established the Information Centre in April 2005, in order to centralise the collection and dissemination of information across the NHS to support their health reform agenda. In February 2006, 'Dr Foster Intelligence' was launched, a joint venture between the Information Centre and Dr Foster Ltd (a private company already successful in health data dissemination) with the aim of developing information products and services which would encourage senior, strategic NHS staff to make effective use of information. The Committee sets out a number of recommendations, including: without a competitive tender, the joint venture seemed to offer an advantage to one company; also without competition, the Information Centre cannot demonstate that it paid the best price for its 50% share; the joint venture deal did not follow established good practice in public sector procurement; the cost of professional advice rose from an initial estimate of £248,000 to between £1.75 and £2.5 million; that the Department and the Information Centre could have made use of wider government experience on forming public private partnerships; it is unclear what benefits the Information Centre will receive from the joint venture; the first year saw a loss of £2.8 million.

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