When an IT-based project runs into trouble, should you respond by arguing its aims are supported?

Connecting for Health, which runs the £12.4bn National Programme for IT [NPfIT], has responded to some of the unflattering publicity over the programme by arguing, in part, that the scheme’s aims and objectives are well supported.

If large numbers of people were stuck in the Channel Tunnel, not all would be reassured by a voice over the loudspeaker system which said repeatedly: Please do not be alarmed – the aims and objectives of the Channel Tunnel have strong support.

After the recent articles on the NPfIT in The Times, Daily Telegraph and other newspapers, Connecting for Health said on its website:

“… There has been considerable media interest in the National Programme for IT over recent weeks. We believe this coverage has not accurately reflected the balance of opinion across the NHS, which shows overwhelming support for the aims and objectives of the National Programme.”

CfH went on to say that it had brought together comments and opinions to illustrate “how new systems and services are already supporting the NHS in providing better, safer care”. This “evidence base” for the national programme comprised:

– The case for IT in healthcare

– What independent reports say

– The patient’s voice

– Views of clinicians

– Views from Westminster

– What the papers say

This material is worth looking at. Much of it, however, shows that there is strong support for the aims and objectives of the NPfIT. It does not provide any independent evidence of the scheme’s technical feasibility, whether it will be affordable, whether it will meet its original objectives, whether the delays with core software are symptomatic of serious difficulties, or whether clinicians will want to use centralised medical records over their established local ones. Computer Weekly looks forward to seeing the evidence base which answers these questions.

Connecting for Health’s evidence base is here.

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