Spend on NHS NPfIT of £5.1bn exceeds initial budget

Taxpayer spending so far on the NHS’s National Programme for IT (NPfIT) has risen to £5.1bn, which is more than the scheme’s original total lifecycle cost.

Taxpayer spending so far on the NHS’s National Programme for IT (NPfIT) has risen to £5.1bn, which is more than the scheme’s original total lifecycle cost.

The programme is in its seventh year and is not due for completion until 2014/15 at the earliest.

Computer Weekly is publishing for the first time the Office of Government Commerce’s Project Profile Model for the national IT programme. The Department of Health expunged the Project Profile Model from the official version of “Delivering 21st Century IT Support for the NHS”, the document which, in 2002, marked the launch of the NPfIT. The “secret” document is to be published on the IT Projects blog.  

Richard Bacon, an MP on the Public Accounts Committee who has followed the NPfIT for several years, says he is astonished that £5.1bn has been spent on what he says is so little.

The government revealed the figures in reply to a Parliamentary question by Tory shadow health spokesman Stephen O’Brien.

One of the main products of the NPfIT – an e-records database for 50 million people – has yet to materialise. Originally it was envisaged that an electronic health record, what was then called a “Life-long National Health Record Service”, would be in place by the end of 2005.

Richard Bacon said: “It is depressing to think that this much money has already been spent and yet so little has been delivered. For £5.1bn an enormous amount should have been achieved in the NHS.”

NPfIT minister Ben Bradshaw said the latest figures include the original costs of NPflT contracts but also include “new and additional requirements that have been added, supported by separate business cases and funding, as reported by the National Audit Office”.

Proof that the government planned for the NPfIT on the basis it would cost £5bn in total is in a document called the “Project Profile Model” which the Department of Health concealed. Computer Weekly is publishing the document for the first time.

The Project Profile Model is dated March 2002. It put the total whole-life project costs of the NHS IT programme at £5.bn. Project Profile Models were used at that time to assess the risks of projects. The one for the NPfIT gave the scheme a score of 53 out of a possible 72. Any score over 40 put the project into the “high risk” category.

The Project Profile Model was removed from the published version of Delivering 21st Century IT Support for the NHS, a Department of Health document which marked the launch of the NPfIT.

The £5.1bn spent on the NPfIT to date excludes capital charges and the bulk of the local costs of NPfIT implementations which have not yet been measured.

NHS Connecting for Health made no comment.


Spend on the NHS NPfIT

  • 2004/5 - £620m
  • 2005/6 - £968m
  • 2006/7 - £1.17bn
  • 2007/8 - £1.19bn
  • 2008/9 - £1.20bn (forecast)

Source Ben Bradshaw, NPfIT minister, Parliamentary reply to Stephen O’Brien March 2009

Proof that £13bn NPfIT was supposed to cost £5bn >>

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