BT - good news on the NHS's National Programme for IT

In a report on its latest financial results BT has issued a reassuring statement about its work on the NHS’s National Programme for IT [NPfIT]. The statement does not deviate from the government’s position that the NPfIT is a success.


BT is the local service provider to London under a 10-year contract worth £996m. It is hoping to provide Cerner’s “Millennium” software to most NHS trusts in the capital. The Cerner system is due to be rolled out across trusts in England.

BT also has a £620m contract, awarded in December 2003, to design, deliver and manage the national data “spine” which provides access to a national patient record database, part of the NHS Care Records Service which should provide an electronic health record for 50 million people in England. Its subcontractors include Oracle, Sun Microsystems and LogicaCMG.

Few trusts in London have the NPfIT Care Records Service which the Department of Health had originally expected to roll out in 2005. One London area trust, Queen Mary’s, Sidcup, had installed a major NPfIT system from US company IDX and has recently replaced it with Cerner’s Millennium. It has declined to say how much it spent on installing and running IDX, and training NHS staff to use it.

The BT statement gives no hint of any difficulties or delays in the delivery of the Care Records Service; and BT is under no obligation under regulatory rules to give such details.

It says in a statement on its interim results:

“BT’s work as part of the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) continues to gain momentum. In London, where it is rolling out new IT systems to hospitals, clinics and GP surgeries, BT has now delivered significant capability to 75 per cent of Trusts. It has now installed two Acute Cerner Millennium Patient Administration Systems at Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust and more recently at Queen Mary’s Sidcup NHS Trust.

“On N3 – the broadband network that underpins the NPfIT – the Heart of Birmingham Teaching Primary Care Trust became one of the first NHS organisations to sign up to the new N3 Hosted Voice Service, following a major upgrade of the N3 network to allow it to carry phone calls using voice over internet protocol technology .

“BT has also delivered a further three software releases on the Spine, the central database and messaging service it is building and managing for the NHS. This has further built on BT’s record of reliability, delivering major enhancement releases to the Spine. “

Comment:

Would that BT’s unwavering confidence in the NPfIT was mirrored by most NHS trusts.

US author Ambrose Bierce said of the future that it’s a time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.

Links:

BT’s latest results and statement on the NPfIT [page 13]

Public Accounts Committee MP asks Health Secretary to block NHS IT contract – 2006

Cerner gives brief response to criticisms by Richard Granger, Director General of NHS IT- August 2007

Head of IT at Barnet and Chase Farm NHS Trust quits

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