BCS criticisms of the NHS National Programme for IT - no response from Whitehall yet

On 6 March 2007 we asked Connecting for Health, which runs the NHS’s National Programme for IT [NPfIT], about a paper published by the British Computer Society – “The Way Forward for NHS Health Informatics”.

The paper contained much praise for the NPfIT and the work of Connecting for Health. It made it clear that the British Computer Society wants the NPfIT to succeed. The Society has thousands of members working in support of front-line NHS services.

The paper also made some far-reaching criticisms of the NPfIT, for example that political pressure has caused health officials to “deny problems and to defend the indefensible”.

Some other points in the British Computer Society’s report:

– Put implementation of the Personal Spine Information System [personal health record] on hold

– While the NPfIT has delivered a number of local operational systems including PACS [x-ray systems called Picture Archiving and Communications Systems] PAS [patient administration systems], and some Community Health and departmental systems, it is possible that at least similar levels of delivery could have been achieved by the processes that were in place prior to the NPfIT…

– In the area of acute electronic patient record, NPfIT has majored on patient administration replacement and this has reduced the number of acute electronic patient record systems that would have been implemented had the NPfIT not existed.

– Viewing NPfIT as just an IT project as its name implies has led to implementation plans that have all too frequently ranged from the optimistic to the unreal.

– Overall, the net deliverables of the NPfIT have been limited considering the scale of what was planned. The NPfIT has been successful in limiting payment for non-delivery, but having under spent because of not delivering is hardly a success and the central costs incurred by NHS CFH are such that, so far, the value for money from services deployed is poor.”

We asked Connecting for Health: Do you accept any of the above points, in particular the comment the one about political pressure to “deny problems and to defend the indefensible”?

Three weeks later we’re still awaiting a response from Connecting for Health or the Department of Health.