Scrap NHS CfH and the NPfIT Care Records Service say Lib-Dems

The Liberal Democrats have proposed cuts to the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), the Care Records Service in particular, according to

“The policy document, published by the party’s shadow health spokesman Norman Lamb, has proposed scrapping the Care Records Service (CRS), reducing the scope of the troubled Choose and Book scheme and shutting down Connecting for Health (CfH) – the organisation overseeing the NPfIT’s implementation. Its proposals in general all point towards removing central control over IT systems.”


It’s too easy to believe that, unless Labour is returned at the coming election, NHS Connecting for Health and parts of the NPfIT are doomed. What is left of the NPfIT will probably survive, at least because of the difficulties in unravelling CfH’s pursuits. 


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I'm sure most will agree that a policy put forward by the Lib Dems is so unlikely to be implemented that this kind of article is moot.

So, rather than continually speculating on the future of CfH and the NPfIT and focusing on its failures, perhaps it would be more productive to efficiently market the future benefits of such a programme to patients and clinicians alike and formulate a plan to ensure the vision isn't lost or in effect dismantled and replaced by a watered down version, driven by those who are looking to pick up minor political points.

I am not sure the Lib-dems should be written off. They won't win the election but their views during Parliamentary debates and inside the corridors of power will be heard. The Lib-Dem Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable has had much influence in the debate over the banking crisis.

Re marketing future benefits of the NPfIT, the programme's future benefits have been well marketed by suppliers, the government, and many media organisations including local and regional newspapers.

For me, I've noticed that the benefits of the NPfIT are nearly always spoken about in the future tense. It's about what "will be".

My job is, in part, to give both sides of the story: to look not only at claims of what "will be" but what is.

Sometimes the "what is" is uncomfortable: at Barts and The London, and at some other trusts, patients have suffered as a result of data problems.

Thousands waited longer for treatment, or being seen, than was considered reasonable. Before the NPfIT, we'd not seen the treatment and care of so many patients affected by an IT-related problem.

The desire to see the NPfIT vision kept intact cannot,in my view, be seen in isolation to that sort of disruption.