The National Audit Office is at a draft report stage after a second investigation into the NHS’s National Programme for IT [NPfIT]. It’s expected the National Audit Office will publish its second report on the NPfIT by May 2008.
The first NAO into the NPfIT in June 2006 report was memorably described by a BBC correspondent as a whitewash. Greg Clark of the Public Accounts Committee called it “gushing”.
This time the NAO is not relying quite so heavily on information supplied by NHS Connecting for Health which runs part of the NPfIT. NAO auditors have been visiting NHS trusts where patient administration systems from CSC and Isoft – and particularly Fujitsu and Cerner – have been installed.
Weston Area Health Trust which had Cerner’s “Millennium” system installed reported in November that the National Audit Office was “undertaking a review of NHS sites with Cerner based IT systems”. Auditors were due to visit the Trust on 2 November 2007, and planned to interview clinical users of the system.
Weston reported at the same time:
“We are also now seeing more involvement in the Trust from the Cerner teams from the US as a result of discussions with the CEO of the Southern Cluster NPfIT team Sarah Elmendorf.”
Convention dictates that the National Audit Office obtain a signature from the audited department, in this case the Department of Health, before it publishes a value for money report.
In 2005 and 2006 the Department of Health delayed giving its approval until its officials were entirely happy with the NAO’s report. Auditors are now going through the ” clearance” again with the Department of Health.
So although the NAO’s report is due by May 2008, it could go through several drafts and be delayed – there were three draft NAO reports on the NPfIT in 2006.