The head of computer services supplier CSC Europe has issued a plea to the next government to freeze NHS targets to give suppliers and the NHS space to roll out new IT systems.
Guy Hains, president of CSC's European Group, told a Westminster political forum that it was essential for policy makers to understand the effect that policy changes could have on IT implementations.
"If I have one plea to an incoming government it is keep the targets still for a period of time," he said. "It is important for those who are building systems to become closer to policy makers so that they understand the impact of the changes and how you take advantage as you move forward."
It is unusual for a large supplier to call publicly on government to freeze policy for the benefit of IT implementations. But Haines revealed he has asked his team to become more vocal on the issue of linking policy changes to IT.
The chair of the British Computer Society's Health Informatics Forum, Glyn Hayes, also raised concerns about the impact of government policy changes.
Hayes and Hains both expressed concern about a government target to treat patients within 18 weeks of their being referred to a specialist by their GP.
It was a major policy initiative which had an impact on NHS IT systems. The target was announced without full consideration of the IT implications, said Hayes.
Hayes said the Department of Health set policies which "completely ignored" the IT consequences. He added: "It was ghastly watching the NHS coming to terms with this [the 18-week wait target] because of the IT implications".
Hains said the target was introduced amid "full-flight" systems deployment and had caused a change in "some of the basic wiring".
CSC is one of two NPfIT local service providers, the other being BT which is supplying the Cerner Millennium Care Records Service to some NHS trusts in the south and in London.
Hayes also made a plea to a new administration - not to cancel the NPfIT in the belief that off-the-shelf systems could replace it. The next government will be able to exploit the technology installed under the NPfIT so far for the benefit of patients, he said.
The two men were speaking to an audience of Parliamentarians, clinicians, IT specialists and others at the Conservative Technology Forum.
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