Conservatives publish NHS IT policy pledges

The Conservatives have published their policy commitments on the NHS IT scheme, as a response to a review of the NPfIT, led by Glyn Hayes, former chairman of the BCS’s Health Informatics Forum.

The document says a Conservative government will:

• “Halt and renegotiate the Local Service Provider contracts to prevent further inefficiencies,
subject to any applicable constraints. As the Review makes clear, neither the Review panel nor their researchers were given access to the contracts, which remain shrouded in ‘commercial confidentiality’.

• “Seek to dismantle the IT central infrastructure, delivering its benefits through interoperable
local systems instead. The Review makes clear that swathes of the Government’s national
structures are outdated and irrelevant. Centrally held data also raise security and privacy concerns.


• “Support and encourage Healthcare Trusts but not impose IT systems on them. Frontline
clinicians and managers are best placed to assess the needs of their hospitals and practices, and thepace of change. However, a Conservative government will also ensure the quality and
interoperability of local IT systems

• “Allow hospitals to use and develop the IT they have already purchased and developed, withina rigorous framework of interoperability.

• “Encourage the use of open source across the public sector. Ashealthcare IT is freed from the constraints of Labour’s centralprogramme, both private sector and open source software will develop.

• “Assess the cost effectiveness of the current National Programme for IT according to the
benefits that can be derived for patients. The Government has neverpublished a compelling cost/ benefit analysis of the National Programmefor IT. This is despite calls for one in the latest Public AccountsCommittee report (27 January 2009) and in Office of Government Commercegateway reviews (2002-2005), which periodically assessed the earlyprogress of the Programme.

Some of the Review’s conclusions are:

• A Conservative government should seek to dismantle Labour’s centralised IT infrastructure.
Instead, it should introduce open standards, initially through acatalogue of accredited systems, so that local NHS IT systems can beconnected together.

• A Conservative government should allow hospitals to use and developthe IT they have already purchased and to choose their own softwarewithin a rigorous framework of interoperability.

• A Conservative government should create a level playing field forsoftware and hardware suppliers and for open source solutions acrossthe NHS.

• A Conservative government should encourage a coordinated approach to health and social care IT so that communication between the two sectors can be improved.

The Conservatives say they “welcome these conclusions” in part becausethey are “consistent with our plans to free the NHS from Labour’scentral control and interference so that it is locally accountable topatients and can focus on improving the results of their treatment”.

Links:

Conservative Party’s response to review of NHS IT scheme by Glyn Hayes

Article on the response – Kable

Whitehall dismisses Tory review report on NHS IT – IT Projects blog

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