Trust raids patients' funds for IT maintenance

A large London hospital trust is raiding funds donated by hospital charities to pay for essential work on maintaining IT systems.

A large London hospital trust is raiding funds donated by hospital charities to pay for essential work on maintaining IT systems.

The disclosure comes despite the government announcing billions of pounds in extra IT money last year.

The Department of Health is moving swiftly to implement its IT programme, which mostly involves projects controlled by officials based centrally or regionally through the UK's 28 strategic health authorities.

Head of IT in the NHS Richard Granger plans to recruit additional expert programme management resources including a locum chief operating officer and director-level managers.

Granger said, "The national IT programme is on a critical time path and needs to move swiftly to meet key project milestones."

Meanwhile an IT manager at a London NHS trust who asked not be to named, said he had received less than 50% of his requested budget last year and this year he expected less.

He said that money raised through hospital charities for the care of patients had been used to pay for the urgent replacement of a pathology system that was too old to support. "We had no other way of funding its replacement," he said.

Tony Eardley, chair of the Association for Information Management and Technology Staff and a director of an IT service for hospitals in south Staffordshire, said that trusts may have to prove they are spending a minimum of 1%-3% of their budgets on IT to qualify for any new money from government.

One aim, he said, was to discourage trusts from diverting new IT money into other areas of healthcare.

But it is unclear how trusts that are not spending the minimum sums will raise their level of spending on IT - unless they consider making cut-backs or diverting money from patients.

A spokesman for the health department said this week that much of the £2.3bn IT investment is for the "national IT programme" and was unlikely to be allocated to individual trusts, although he said plans were not finalised.

Read more on IT strategy

SearchCIO
SearchSecurity
SearchNetworking
SearchDataCenter
SearchDataManagement
Close