Rarely out of the headlines, the NHS National Programme for IT has been beset with an array of problems, raising passions on all sides.
Issues faced by NPfIT include key elements of the programme being years late; escalating costs; suppliers running into difficulties; and, in some cases, a lack of support by doctors and health professionals.
When it was launched in June 2000, the government recognised the need for a comprehensive update of NHS IT systems.
The NHS National Programme for IT therefore focused on four projects, although others were delivered along the way.
These were an electronic system to book hospital appointments (Choose and Book), a set of reliable, national electronic health records, a new broadband infrastructure, and e-prescriptions.
BT successfully delivered the broadband infrastructure, though critics attacked the cost. Choose and Book is working, but many GPs refuse to use it. E-prescriptions have been delayed, but may prove useful in time.
However, the main bugbear is the national electronic health record: the main purpose of NPfIT. This looks to be years away, with many experts now questioning whether it is needed, as regional records seem adequate in many cases.
One of the features of the National Programme for IT has been the vocal nature of proponents and critics of the scheme, who include politicians, medical experts and academics.
A key figure is the charismatic director general of NHS IT, Richard Granger, who is recognised as having held the whole programme together with a firm grip on the finances.
as chief executive of Connecting for Health in June 2007, leaving the future of NPfIT in
National Health Service Programme for IT – NpfIT news stories/features
- Connecting for Health
- The case for the National Programme for IT
- The National Programme for IT
- E-Health Insider
- BT, NPfIT and Mary's story
- NHS IT
scheme spends £1.5bn less than expected 14/03/2008
- Patient database
open to access by non-qualified NHS staff 03/03/2008
- Senior executive
Richard Jeavons quits NHS IT programme 01/04/2008
- Plans to
replace legacy NHS systems put on hold 07/04/2008
- Matthew Swindells
quits NHS National Programme for IT 10/04/2008
for NHS to take stock 26/06/2007
Granger's departure may jeopardise NHS IT programme 26/06/2007
IT: an open letter to Gordon Brown 25/06/2007
criticise Choose and Book system 20/06/2007
for Health briefing claims much of NHS NPfIT complete 06/2007
and CSC strike NHS deal to allow takeover 18/06/2007
executive of NHS Connecting for Health resigns 18/06/2007
IT project delays putting patients' safety at risk, say senior staff 17/05/2007
exposes stark reality of NHS IT 24/04/2007
slam failures in delivering NHS IT 17/04/2007
dissect NHS IT plan's failings 17/04/2007
worries delay localisation of NPfIT 13/04/2007
suspended from NHS contract 13/04/2007
roll-out of this records system, urge NHS doctors 10/04/2007
imaging to replace x-ray film in London trusts 05/04/2007
IT devolution plan goes into action 27/03/2007
trusts ask for costs to cover delays to NPfIT 21/03/2007
GPs first adopters of NHS online patient records 16/03/2007
suppliers sought in change to NHS IT 13/03/2007
Keynes hospitals go live with electronic care records 28/02/2007
scheme makes 'a nonsense of IT security' 27/02/2007
sets out risks facing NHS IT plan 13/02/2007
system boosts care at Sheffield trust improves care with e-records 05/02/2007
air 'concerns' over NPfIT 24/01/2007
claims swift progress in NHS contract 23/01/2007
about people, not just technology 19/12/2006
warning for hospital on patient system problems 12/12/2006
e-mails emphasise divide between business goals and technology in NHS plan 22/11/2005
- This examination of NHS IT scheme has failed to probe the painful facts 11/07/2006
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This was first published in May 2007