The future of the National Programme for IT [NPfIT] is looking indistinct.
Computer Weekly is today [14 August 2007] publishing a series of articles that, when considered together, suggest that the government wants the NPfIT to blend into NHS IT in general. The NPfIT would, therefore, have less of a clearly discernible – and controversial – character.
There are some of the recent developments:
– There are signs the programme is in flight from ruthless standardisation
– Whitehall has dropped plans to give NHS Connecting for Health, the organisation set up to run the programme, the status and independence of an executive agency
– Officials are struggling to find money for plans to localise the scheme
– A more diffuse leadership at the Department of Health is poised to subsume some of the skills of Richard Granger, the departing Director General of NHS IT.
Some advisers to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown may welcome it if the programme, as a national initiative, were to fade slowly into obscurity.
This would make it more difficult for observers of the NPfIT in the NHS, Parliament and the media, to delineate what of the original programme is, and what is not, a success. In the run up to a possible early general election ministers would welcome a reduction in the number of articles that cast the NPfIT in a poor light.
There is also a practical benefit in the NPfIT being blended into NHS IT: the programme gives doctors and nurses only some of the systems they need.