When NPfIT minister Simon Burns declared in a letter to the BMA that the government was reviewing the summary care records scheme, his announcement came at a good time: GPs were voting at their annual conference on motions to scrap the scheme.
Burns’ letter was read out at the Local Medical Committees’ annual conference last week. His promise of an SCR review averted a row with local GPs and the BMA.
Now it turns out that the Government is reviewing hundreds of large public sector projects that have a substantial IT element, including the summary records and indeed the £13bn NPfIT.
So Burns was announcing to the BMA a project review that would have happened anyway, as part of Cabinet Office ICT policy.
Burns obtained some good publicity for announcing the review, includingan article in the Daily Telegraph. But had journalists – and the BMA – been misled?They hadn’t been told that the government had ordered internally areview of all large ICT-based projects and programmes.
This centrally-led review is to see whether the government cancancel ICT-led projects that are significantly over budget, delayed, or the scopehas ballooned.
The NPfIT is over budget (the original £6.2bn contracts with localservice providers has increased to about £7.5bn), delays have affectedthe main deployments to NHS trusts of Lorenzo and Cerner Millenniumsystems, and the scope of the national programme has greatly increased.
Sowill the NPfIT be cancelled?
That will depend on how hard andcredibly the Department of Health and NHS Connecting for Health arguefor continuance of the scheme. But their arguments will be studied withsceptical eyes by the Cabinet Office and Office of Government Commerce -which are advising David Cameron on how to save billions on the annualcosts of government IT.
Electronicmedical system to be reviewed – Daily Telegraph
Governmentannounces review of summary care record – IT Projects Blog
Avery rapid betrayal – Ross Anderson
Dellencourages coalition to continue with the NPfIT – cosmetic surgery