NHS projects could be delayed as IT bosses struggle to get funding

NHS IT managers have described their confusion about how they obtain a slice of the £2.3bn allocated by the government to...

NHS IT managers have described their confusion about how they obtain a slice of the £2.3bn allocated by the government to overhaul health service systems.

Despite the money being "primarily dedicated" to delivering the four national initiatives of systems that manage patient records; booking of appointments; prescribing drugs; and infrastructure, some managers are struggling to get hold of the cash.

One IT manager in a southern NHS trust, who asked not to be named, said, "I have applied for a number of different projects and I have got hardly any funding. I have been told that the projects we are working on are not considered a priority according to the national plan."

The projects in question, which focus on developing electronic patient records, desktops and infrastructure, are now in danger of falling behind schedule. "It might put our projects behind and we will have to re-evaluate where we are," he said.

Another IT manager in a large NHS trust described the pressures that meeting the requirements of the national programme had placed on his organisation. He said, "Anything that trusts want to do, they have to do at their own risk and prove that it is strategically compliant with the national programme."

An IT manager in a London acute trust said his organisation had been able to get access to the money, but some of his neighbouring trusts had not been so successful. "We have managed to get some money but even in our area it has been variable," he said. "I think that eventually most people will get the money that has been promised."

The Department of Health recently announced that it was launching a new IT "national programme office" to provide the extra skills needed to develop the new technology strategy.

An IT manager in an acute trust said, "When you look at the logistics of the programme and what [NHS IT tsar] Richard Granger has to do, he has to have some specialist organisation to deliver it."

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