National programme accepts value of IT audit

Connecting for Health, the agency that runs the national programme for IT in the NHS, has agreed with 23 leading academics that an independent audit of the scheme could be valuable.

Connecting for Health, the agency that runs the national programme for IT in the NHS, has agreed with 23 leading academics that an independent audit of the scheme could be valuable.

The agency's agreement came when Richard Granger, director general of NHS IT, met academics last week at Richmond House, the headquarters of the Department of Health.

The meeting was arranged at short notice after Computer Weekly revealed that the 23 experts in computer-related sciences had written an open letter to the House of Commons Health Committee asking for an independent audit of the national programme.

In a statement, Connecting for Health said that at the meeting on 20 April "there was agreement that a constructive and pragmatic independent review of the programme could be valuable".

Both parties "agreed to meet again to consider further details of how such a review might best be conducted and its terms of reference".

The agreement was in contrast to the initial hostile reaction to the audit call by health minister Caroline Flint.

Computer Weekly editor Hooman Bassirian said, "The announcement by Connecting for Health that it accepts the value of an independent audit of the national programme for IT is a significant step forward in helping ensure that the world's largest civil IT project is on track to meet its original objectives and deadlines.

"It would be inappropriate for either Connecting for Health, or any organisation it recommends, to be involved in setting the terms of reference, appointing the independent auditors, or overseeing the research and production of the final report.

"The organisation that is best placed to oversee these activities is the House of Commons Health Select Committee."

Read: Minister rebuffs call for audit

Read: Your shout: NHS IT, NPfIT, patient services

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