NHS IT at a standstill?

Conservative and Liberal Democrat shadow ministers call for urgent review of the £12 billion NHS IT programme.

Opposition politicians have renewed their calls for a review of the 12.7 billion National Health Services (NHS) programme this week.

The National Programme for IT (NPfIT) is looking to upgrade and linkup IT systems - in particular, patient records. However, press reports have suggested that the project was "grinding to a halt."

Suppliers were said to be backing away from the project, because of how expensive and delayed the project has been, a charge the NHS has denied.

NPfIT had already been reported to be taking four years longer than planned earlier this year. With a halt in progress, the programme may be delayed even longer. Now opposition leaders are starting to think that it may never be completed.

Stephen O'Brien, shadow health minister, told the Financial Times that the "hugely expensive" programme was "desperately behind schedule". Yet ministers "refuse to be accountable for it."

"It is extremely difficult to work out from the outside what is going on," said O'Brien. "If the centralised, top-down approach to introducing the patient record had worked we wouldn't be where we are now."

BT, the supplier in London, stated that they were working on resolving the remaining issues and that revised dates would be agreed upon for the next four hospitals.

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