Could change in government threaten NHS IT?
Analyst Ovum has released a report stating the National Programme for IT in the NHS could be under threat if the government were to change.
The NHS' 12 billion National Programme for IT (NPfIT) could be threatened if the current government was ousted.
So claims a report by analyst Ovum.
During the Conservative Spring Party Conference, Tory leader David Cameron announced he would scrap the NHS Connecting for Health's electronic patient record (EPR) system if he got into power, claiming it was a big saving that could be made as the country fights through the recession.
Vince Cable, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer for the Liberal Democrats, also said this week that he would ditch the "NHS IT project" in an effort to save tax payers' money.
But Tola Sargeant, a principal analyst at consulting firm Ovum, has spoken out against these moves claiming the EPR system will still be needed, regardless of the current economic climate.
Cameron stated that personal health records (PHRs) could be used instead of a central database and said: "Today you don't need a massive central computer [to enable the sharing of medical notes]. People can store their health records securely online, they can show them to whichever doctor they want [and they] cost virtually nothing to run."
Sargeant however said: "While we agree that there is a role for PHRs to play - and that they can enable patients to share their medical notes at very little cost - we don't think their use would necessarily result in big savings for the NHS. They are complementary to, rather than a replacement for, EPRs."
She explains in the report that PHRs are for individual use and would not provide the ability to share data which she sees as key to improving patient care.
Sargeant continued: "NHS Trusts would need to invest in EPRs to digitise their medical records whether or not there was a national programme for their rollout. Moreover, the bulk of the work to enable the sharing of basic patient data on a national basis - through the creation of the 'data spine' by BT and its partners - is already complete."
Cameron's plans for PHRs would, of course, benefit the likes of Google and [a href="http://www.microsoft.com" target="_blank"
rel="nofollow"]Microsoft[/a] who both run platforms for this purpose - Google Health and Health Vault - but Sargeant insists scrapping the plans would not save the government a great deal of cash and certainly not improve the service.
Sargeant also comments on the further pressure placed upon the NPfIT as the director general of the Department of Health, Christine Connelly, warned the scheme has just seven months to make "significant progress" or a new scheme would be implemented.
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