NPfIT is virtually dead says NHS Trust

Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust has commissioned a review of its IT strategy in view of what it calls the “virtual demise” of the NPfIT, the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

An executive paper to the Trust’s Board in June 2010 shows how little impression the NPfIT has made in some parts of the NHS, despite a spend so far on the national programme of about £5bn.

Since its launch in 2002, the NPfIT has been spoken of with reverence by notables and ministers who include Lord Hunt, John Read, Patricia Hewitt, Caroline Flint, Ben Bradshaw, Andy Burnham, John Hutton, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Too soon to say the NPfIT is dead?

In my view it’s too soon to say the NPfIT is dead. The Coalition is unlikely to cancel the Summary Care Record even though there are signs it will be little used by hospital doctors. There is a strong PR campaign within Connecting for Health and the Department of Health to sell the SCR to the latest NPfIT minister Simon Burns

Internal PR campaign on Summary Care Record a success

This internal PR campaign has been successful so far, partly because an undisclosed sum – which is believed to run into hundreds of millions of pounds – has already been spent on the SCR; and BT, which runs the scheme, could claim a hefty sum in compensation should the SCR be cancelled.

But  some NPfIT Care Records Service implementations are in trouble

That said, the NPfIT’s success could be said to pivot on the Care Record Service implementations by local service providers BT and CSC of Cerner Millennium and iSoft’s Lorenzo. Some prominent NHS sites are struggling with Cerner in London and Lorenzo in the north, not least at NHS Bury which has been trying for about eight months to embed Lorenzo Regional Care Release 1.9. CSC has yet to be paid for the go-live of Lorenzo at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust

Will Burns & Co decide eventually to put these sorts of implementations out of their misery?

Meanwhile little is heard these days of NHS CIO Christine Connelly whowithdrewat the last moment from a talk she was due to give at SmartGov lastmonth. It would be a pity if she left, for she has given some soundadvice to the NHS on Care Record Serviceimplementations.    

**

In its June2010 board report, Ashford and St Peter’s NHS Trust said:

“TEC[Trust Executive Committee] then discussed the development of the ITstrategy for the Trust.

“Following the virtual demise of thenational programme (NPfIT), the Trust had commissioned a review by aconsultant, Mike Haines.

“This had provided the Trust with adiagnosis and a number of actions. Following on from this review, it hadbeen decided to enhance the leadership of Informatics across the Trust;the post was being advertised substantively but in the interim, JohnAird had been appointed as Associate Director for Informatics.

“Inaddition, a consultancy, Health Systems, had been engaged to work withthe Trust over the next four to five months to develop a strategyincluding initial consideration of the capital implications.

“Fiveto six consultant ‘champions’ would be sought to assist with thedevelopment of the
strategy.

“It was pointed out that whilstthe longer term strategy was being developed, there were manyopportunities to exploit the existing systems and technology availablewithin the Trust, and also to look at process re-engineering.”

Links:

Is the NPfIT in London officially in tatters? – IT Projects Blog {April 2010)

Connelly no show leaves NHS IT fate in doubt – publictechnologynet

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The issue of the life or death of NPfIT is neither here nor there for many clinicians and operational managers. More to the point it is immaterial to patient value and satisfaction if NPfIT continues or not. The calamity that is NPfIT is a story for grandchildren and moments of reflective conversation.

What must happen is the end of the corporatist thinking that created the programme in the first place.

After 8 years we have a dogs breakfast of unfinished and unsatisfactory installations, uneven dispersal of common system[s] and a final recognition through gritted teeth that the whole idea was never about the patient.

Frontline services will now do what should have been done in the first place which is to provide solutions at patient level first and progressively migrate best practice and consolidation.

Most fundamentally there should be a end to the idea that ministers and the DH should get involved in operational matters.

Make each patient interface work, standardise best practice and consolidate for vertical synergy and information needs. Demand service from providers and dispose of systems that are not fit for purpose.

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