Government pulls plug on ailing £11bn NHS IT programme

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Government pulls plug on ailing £11bn NHS IT programme

Kathleen Hall

The troubled £11bn NHS National Programme for IT is to be axed, the government is expected to announce later today.

The programme was launched in 2002, with the central intention to create a fully integrated electronic care records system across the NHS. Total spending for the programme stands at around £6.4bn, but was expected to rise to £11.4bn by completion.

The project's cancellation follows a recommendation from the Major Projects Authority (MPA), the new body set up by the government tasked with assessing the value for money of large spending commitments, the Daily Mail has learned.

Under new proposals, the system will be replaced by regional initiatives where GPs will choose the IT system they need.

The news follows a recent National Audit Office report which said it had little confidence that the outstanding systems would be delivered.

"There can be no confidence that the programme has delivered or can be delivered as originally conceived," the newspaper quoted a report from the MPA as saying.

"The project has not delivered in line with the original intent as targets on dates, functionality, usage and levels of benefit have been delayed and reduced.

"It is not possible to identify a documented business case for the whole of the programme. Unless the work is refocused it is hard to see how the perception can ever be shifted from the faults of the past and allowed to progress effectively to support the delivery of effective healthcare," it said.

When the IT scheme is axed, the board which runs the project will also be scrapped.

However, it remains unclear where this will leave the government's outstanding £4.3bn contractual commitments for care record systems with suppliers BT and CSC.

In June, Computer Weekly learned that the NHS paid £200m to troubled supplier CSC as an advance against contractual charges that were not due to be paid until the company's 2012 financial year.


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