A senior health official has told all London NHS chief executives that savings on the £12.7bn NHS IT programme mean that "it will no longer be possible to provide the comprehensive solution that was anticipated in 2003".
The letter by Ruth Carnall, who is chief executive of NHS London, the strategic health authority for the capital, is confirmation that the National Programme for IT [NPfIT] in London will not deliver to trusts in the capital a single standardised hospital system. One of the original purposes of the NPfIT had been to achieve economies of scale by having one local service provider - BT - deliver a common, unified system to all trusts in London.
Carnall's letter explains the cuts in services and systems that will be made because of the government insistance that BT's £1bn contract as the NPfIT local service provider in London is reduced by at least £100m.
The letter says: "The £100m reduction in the available funding, inevitably, means a reduction in the scope of the Programme. It will no longer be possible to provide the comprehensive solution that was anticipated in 2003."
BT will no longer have to supply systems to about 1,400 GP practices in London. The Cerner and Rio electronic patient record systems "will now not be available to all organisations", says Carnall. BT is also excused from delivering an ambulance solution.
Conservative MP Richard Bacon, a member of the House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee, said that the new deal with BT represents an extraordinarily good deal for the company and an extraordinarily bad one for taxpayers.
Carnall says that a new IT strategy for the NHS in London will be drawn up which will help "address the IT challenges emerging from the reconfiguration of services".