Time for NHS to take stock

With the announcement of Richard Granger's departure, there is a danger that the NHS's £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT) will sink into oblivion

With the announcement of Richard Granger's departure, there is a danger that the NHS's £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT) will sink into oblivion - and possibly not before suppliers have sought to regain ground lost under Granger's firm financial grip.

We do not know of anyone other than Granger who could keep three international companies, the local service providers BT, Fujitsu and CSC, on such a tight rein.

Whatever happens now should be informed by an independent review. It could take as little as six weeks. Many of the NPfIT's strengths and weaknesses would be obvious from programme papers. The review could recommend scrapping what is never likely to work, and suggest putting money into what will bring measurable patient benefits.

A review is likely to reveal uncomfortable truths. But Gordon Brown should not shrink from ordering an independent, published review simply because officialdom likes to keep these uncomfortable truths out of the spotlight.

NPfIT in the spotlight >>

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