NHS CEO says IT scheme won’t live up to promises

The chief executive of NHS London has admitted the multi-billion pound NPfIT scheme will not achieve what it set out to do back in 2003.

Hospital IT

The National Programme for IT (NPfIT) will not be benefitting London's health service like it was first hoped, according to a senior health official.

Ruth Carnall, chief executive of NHS London, has written a letter to other executives saying cuts insisted upon by central Government means the capital will not be able to run on one standard system the main intention of the scheme in the first place.

The 1 billion contract given to BT to provide the systems now needs to be cut by at least 100 million, which means health facilities will have varying levels of system integration and plans for GP surgeries will be scrapped altogether.

"The 100 million reduction in the available funding, inevitably, means a reduction in the scope of the programme," said Carnall in her letter.

"It will no longer be possible to provide the comprehensive solution that was anticipated in 2003."

Richard Bacon, Conservative MP for Norfolk South, has regularly criticised what he considers the centralisation of the scheme and has now spoken again about the further changes as to who gets what.

In a statement on his website he publicly challenged Gordon Brown to "have the nerve to change course" as "this flagship project, born in [number] 10, is now in grave danger of sinking with all hands."

However, Gayna Hart, managing director of Quicksilva involved in secure access elements of the scheme thinks the scheme has done wonders so far with the elements that are already working.

"There is a widespread misconception that the NPfIT is an all or nothing' programme polarised by success on one hand or failure on the other," she said in a statement. "This is not the case."

"The core functionality the NHS Spine is up and running now and more and more healthcare providers are connecting to it. This has allowed the roll out of services such as the Electronic Prescriptions Service which already sees 1.5 million prescriptions issued every day. It also allows the sharing of patient record data across Trusts."

"This is improving the patient experience as well as making it more convenient for patients to receive care from out of hours services," she added.

Overall, the Government is spending 12.7 billion on the scheme.

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