NHS cans local patient record work

A state-of-the-art, £1140m electronic patient record project in the West Country has become the latest casualty of the...

A state-of-the-art, £1140m electronic patient record project in the West Country has become the latest casualty of the government's £2.3bn drive to overhaul NHS IT.

Developed over the past two years, the Shires Acute and Community Hospital EPR project covered 11 NHS trusts and three million people in the South West. As well as hospitals, the service was designed to be available in health centres and GP surgeries.

However, earlier this month, the government and local officials decided that precedence must be given to the £2.3bn national programme for NHS IT, effectively pulling the plug on the project.

In November last year, former health minister Lord Hunt met with Strategic Health Authority chief executives to assess how much money would be needed to complete the Shires EPR scheme. It was calculated that an additional £114m of funding would be needed over the first three years of the project. Because no additional national funding would be made available, officials from the Shires board decided to cancel the initiative.

NHS IT users, suppliers and analysts have warned that there could be a two-year hiatus in the roll out of new IT projects while the government thrashes out details of the national programme.

A spokesman for the national programme said the knowledge gained from the Shires project will be fed back into the health service's IT overhaul.

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