NHS IT plan risky but will not fail, says OGC

The £2.3bn national programme to modernise health service IT systems is "risky and ambitious" but it has sufficient safeguards in...

The £2.3bn national programme to modernise health service IT systems is "risky and ambitious" but it has sufficient safeguards in place to help ensure does not repeat the mistakes of previous national IT projects, according to the chief executive of the Office of Government Commerce.

Peter Gershon made the assurance when quizzed by MPs on the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee late last month.

"If projects fail in the future they will do so for novel reasons and not the old familiar reasons," he said.

The committee members suggested to Gershon that the NHS IT programme risked failing to achieve its aims because it had ignored advice from the National Audit Office, the government's spending watchdog, and others on how to manage large IT projects.

"There are shelfloads of advice that very big projects should be cut into much smaller bite-sized chunks," said committee member Richard Bacon.

Gershon said that the NHS IT programme was broken down into smaller projects, adding that the electronic patient record system would not introduced in a "big bang" implementation.

He admitted that the NHS IT programme was "risky and ambitious" but added that procedures such as the government’s gateway review process - designed to eliminate project failures - would help keep it on track.

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