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Milburn stands firm on IT spending promises

Parliamentary reporter
Health secretary Alan Milburn has rejected opposition claims that the Government is failing to invest in NHS IT.

In parliament this week, Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh questioned whether funds for IT would be raided from other NHS work. "Given that the Wanless report stated that getting IT strategy right was essential to fulfil NHS targets, and given that the Government has had three reports about it and three attempts at doing that, what guarantees can it give that the available resources will be used to meet the Government targets and will not be re-routed, which happened previously?" he asked.

Milburn replied that there are some important lessons to be learned. "First, we need proper standardisation of IT procurement. Second, we need competent leadership, which we now have and can take further forward. We are currently advertising for a national IT director.

"Third and crucially, we must ensure that IT investment reaches those whom it needs to reach. It is fair to say that that has not always happened in the past.

"I assure honourable members that the programme will be centrally run in future so that we can ensure that we avoid some of the piecemeal solutions of the past."

But shadow health secretary Liam Fox said the government was already behind on earlier NHS IT targets.

Milburn replied that the NHS would have a centrally run IT programme.

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