Local ownership of the £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT) has been delayed as Strategic Health Authorities continue to negotiate over how Connecting for Health, an agency of the Department of Health, will hand over some responsibility for the programme.
The handover was expected on April 1, but is now unlikely before July. The Department of Health had committed to developing greater local ownership of the programme, which plans to create 50 million electronic records for patients in England, following criticism from the National Audit Office that the programme did not have support of local staff.
Under an initiative called the NPfIT Local Ownership Programme, SHAs were due to become more accountable for the programme. However, they are now negotiating a now responsibility will be transferred more than two weeks after the deadline. The Department of Health first put forward the plan in August last year.
Although the DoH created a central agency to procure technology for the national programme, contract five local service providers and create national application contracts in 2003, NHS management is largely devolved to a trust and health authority level. This makes co-ordinating business change and technology development a challenge.
Connecting for Health director of service implementation Richard Jeavons said, “The transition to local ownership involves a lot of detailed discussions between many parties. It’s important to get these discussions right and they have taken longer than originally planned. However, all parties are working together to complete them successfully over the coming months.”
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