MPs want an inquiry into NHS IT scheme

Technology experts’ letter triggers concerns at Westminster

Members of the House of Commons Health Committee want to hold a series of hearings into the NHS IT programme later this year in response to an open letter from 23 experts in computer-related sciences.

The committee would investigate the case for an independent audit into whether the programme, as originally announced by the Department of Health, is feasible and will help clinicians improve patient care.

MPs on the committee had considered holding two hearings into the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in July, before parliament breaks up for the summer. But at a meeting they decided more time was needed to consider a report by public spending watchdog the National Audit Office. The NAO is due to report next month on whether the NPfIT so far has represented value for money.

MPs on the Health Committee also want to consider the findings of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, which is due to question Richard Granger, head of the NPfIT, on 26 June.

Mike Penning, a Tory member of the Health Committee, said the experts’ open letter had been discussed by his committee.

“The committee will be taking oral evidence as well as written evidence once the reports of the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee are published. We will hold an in-depth inquiry.

“This is a major project which will have a massive effect on the future treatment of patients in the NHS and it involves an enormous amount of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

The open letter to the Health Committee, published last month, called for an independent technical audit of the NPfIT.

A spokesman for the Health Committee said members had indicated that they wanted to hold a series of hearings into the NPfIT but no firm decision had been taken. Penning said members of the committee were determined to hold an inquiry.

Meanwhile, 44 MPs have signed an early day motion that calls for an independent audit of the NPfIT. Computer Weekly plans to contact MPs to draw their attention to the motion.


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