Successes, delays and cost fears for NHS plan

The world's largest civil IT project is bound to have ups and downs. In 2005 this proved the case for the £6.2bn NHS national programme for IT (NPfIT).

The world's largest civil IT project is bound to have ups and downs. In 2005 this proved the case for the £6.2bn NHS national programme for IT (NPfIT).

Delays dogged the programme and debate over the total cost raged. But new hospital systems were delivered and GPs have been able to make bookings online.

March and April saw structural changes to the NPfIT, which came under the control of a new body called Connecting for Health.

Meanwhile, the NHS Information Authority, which once co-ordinated national IT projects, was disbanded, as was the NHS Modernisation Agency, which had been charged with driving through some of the business changes the NPfIT requires.

In April, Connecting for Health appointed its fourth official in two years to ensure the involvement of clinical and management stakeholders, amidst concern over lack of clinician engagement.

During the summer, Fujitsu, the NPfIT local service provider for the southern cluster, dropped its main systems supplier IDX. Although a year behind schedule, it chose to start work with new supplier Cerner.

London provider BT Capital Care Alliance stuck with IDX, and although a year late, managed to get its first working IDX system implemented in November.

Paul Goss, director of health IT research firm Silicon Bridge, said, "2005 was the year the national programme came to understand the health business processes. The planning phase was all about rolling out technology, but the experience of all businesses, including the public sector, is that you do not do technology projects without understanding the core business."

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