A Conservative MP has written to Christine Connelly, the CIO at the Department of Health, asking whether the £12.7bn NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) can be value for money when "dramatic reductions in scope and scale are apparently being considered".
Richard Bacon is a member of the Public Accounts Committee who has followed the NPfIT more closely than any other MP. His list of questions to Christine Connelly has been copied to the chief executive of the NHS, David Nicholson, and to the comptroller and auditor general at the National Audit Office, Amyas Morse.
The list follows disclosures that NHS Connecting for Health is negotiating with NPfIT local service providers CSC and BT to halve the number of deployments to NHS trusts of iSoft Lorenzo and Cerner Millennium systems.
Connecting for Health also wants to reduce the functionality of Lorenzo and Cerner systems, to help cut £600m from the total costs of the NHS IT programme.
Bacon says in his letter to Connelly: "I understand that you are in the process of negotiating new contract resets with both BT and CSC and that the plan is to reduce substantially both the number of deployments and the functional scope in order to secure a reduction of payments of just £600m on over £5bn of contracts.
"For example, I understand that two of the four Lorenzo releases are to be discarded and that a substantial number of London trusts are withdrawing from the programme How can the programme represent value for money when such dramatic reductions in scope and scale are apparently being considered?"
Bacon also asks Connelly about a special payment to BT of £546m for installing extra Cerner and Rio community health systems. "This seems like an extraordinarily large amount of money for such a small amount of activity. How this has been calculated as being value for money when the eleven acute trusts could have purchased brand new systems for a fraction of the price?" asks Bacon.