DoH to review hospital IT deals

The Department of Health (DoH) has established a national board to review all existing hospital IT procurements to decide which...

The Department of Health (DoH) has established a national board to review all existing hospital IT procurements to decide which fit with the draft new national IT strategy for the health service. Some IT contracts that do not fit may be terminated.

The vetting procedure, likely to cause further upheaval in local NHS IT projects, was announced at a recent NHS conference to outline the draft NHS IT programme and procurement strategy to IT suppliers.

John Pattison, DoH director of analysis, research and information, said the review will look at procurements already under way and, together with strategic health authorities, decide whether to sustain, accelerate or to stop existing deals.

The top priority would be to minimise delays, stressed Pattison. "We do not want reasonable current procurements to stop."

He told delegates that the IT strategy was at "late draft stage", but added that he had been authorised by ministers to consult more widely. He confirmed that the DoH aims to deliver the ambitious new national IT programme by strategic outsourcing to a handful of suppliers - prime service providers - using national contracts.

Some will deliver core national applications; others will integrate systems and provide services within the 28 local NHS communities covered by strategic health authorities.

Details of the strategy have still to be finalised, however, including procurement and implementation timescales; whether the huge extra investment required will be committed; and formalising the relationships between the DoH, NHS organisations, prime service providers and sub-contractors.

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