Central procurement of IT systems to save NHS 3.8bn, says Connecting for Health

Annual report says costs will be slashed by changes to buying of core systems

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Annual report says costs will be slashed by changes to buying of core systems

The NHS in England will save 3.8bn in IT procurement over 10 years through central buying of core systems and services, according to Connecting for Health, which runs the National Programme for IT in the NHS.

Other supplier arrangements will bring procurement savings of around 150m, it said in its annual report published last week.

Six enterprise-wide arrangements with Cisco Systems, EMC Computer Systems, Hewlett-Packard, SeeBeyond, Sun Microsystems and TATA Consultancy Services were announced in August 2004. Additional arrangements with Documentum, Health Language and Oracle followed later in the year.

In November last year Connecting for Health signed a licensing deal with Microsoft, which it said would save the NHS 330 million over nine years.

Director general for NHS IT Richard Granger said the programme had made a great deal of progress on implementing electronic health records, electronic transfer of prescriptions, electronic booking, new electronic imaging and a network upgrade.

"Even though we are only two years into this massive undertaking, we estimate that over two million people - patients, doctors, and other NHS professionals - have already been helped by new systems delivered by the National Programme for IT," he said.

The annual report also described progress in other areas of the NPfIT. By 31 May, the New National Network (N3) was supporting around 350,000 people working in the NHS in England, it said. More than 30,000 clinicians were registered users of the NHS Care Records Service data "spine", almost 3,500 of them general practitioners.

More than 124,000 NHS employees were registered with Contact, the secure e-mail and directory service for the NHS and, between 1 January and 31 May 2005, more than 50 million e-mails were sent and received on the system, it said.

The report also emphasises the need to work with clinicians. "The National Programme has achieved a great deal so far, but to make it truly work we have to deliver hearts, minds and usage: staff must use it on the ground and use it creatively, instructively and imaginatively.

"We've got to get end users feeling and believing that this is going to improve their working lives," said Alan Burns, who has stood down as service implementation director since the annual report was compiled.

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