NHS IT project scrapped as central control is abandoned

The NHS National Project for IT (NPfIT), has finally abandoned its control from the centre approach.

Major changes to the way the NHS will buy IT was announced today.

The writing was really on the wall when the Department of Health ended an agreement with Microsoft, although not part of NPfIT, it offered trusts lower prices but basically forced them to buy Microsoft.

A Department of Health spokesman said at the time:

“The Department of Health has already invested so that NHS Trusts are able to have access to the latest versions of Microsoft desktop software. Future investment decisions will be taken at a local level in line with the proposals set out in the White Paper published this week.”

Suppliers such as BT, Fujitsu, and CSC are amongst the suppliers with contracts as part of the NHS NPfIT. NHS trusts will now be free to purchase IT systems locally, although existing contracts with the two main supplier to NPfIT, BT and CSC remain in place for those trusts that wish to use them.

The Department of Health said today in regard to the NHS NPfIT overhaul: “A new approach to implementation will take a modular approach, allowing NHS organisations to introduce smaller, more manageable change, in line with their business requirements and capacity.  NHS services will be the customers of a more plural system of IT embodying the core assumption of ‘connect all’, rather than ‘replace all’ systems.  This reflects the coalition government’s commitment to ending top-down government and enabling localised decision-making.”

According to a small technology company I recently spoke to: “A rolling back of the NHS National Programme for IT will benefit us because hospitals all over the country were holding back investment in their own IT initiatives.”

This might suggest that standardisation might not be top of the government agenda. Could this risk IT anarchy with a huge technology map.