Although nearly 80% of managers support the concept of using local service providers, 63% of those familiar with the consortia involved said they were "not confident" in their ability to deliver the NHS' IT needs. The majority of respondents said they would be unhappy if they were transferred to external contractors.
The survey of more than 300 managers, which was conducted jointly with Health Service Journal magazine, also revealed a worrying lack of resources at a local level.
Almost 66% of managers said they were finding it difficult to keep pace with IT improvements, and more than 50% cited lack of resources and guidance as the key reasons for this.
Flagship projects such as electronic patient records, systems upgrades and e-booking are already suffering as a result, warned the report.
Assist chairman Tony Eardley said there was a consensus of support for the national programme but added that the findings should help inform future government work. He said, "It should help focus the Department of Health on what needs to be done to win the confidence of IT professionals who will be responsible for delivering the programme on the ground."