Conservative leader David Cameron has attacked the government’s £12.4bn NHS National Programme for IT in his keynote party conference speech.
In a passage attacking the government’s wider health service policy, Cameron singled out “an NHS computer costing billions of pounds that many professionals in the NHS can't really tell you what it is for, though they are worried its going to take away patient confidentiality”.
The Tory leader also made reference – without naming the system – to the crisis-hit online application service for junior doctors seeking training posts. The Medical Training Application System (MTAS) was eventually axed by the government after chaos caused by system crashes and a security breach sparked huge protests by doctors.
“I will never forget walking on the streets of London marching with ten thousand junior doctors who felt like they were being treated like cogs in a machine rather than professionals with a vocation to go out and save lives,” Cameron, who joined a protest demonstration, told the party faithful in Blackpool.
Cameron also re-emphasised the pledge made earlier at the conference by shadow home secretary David Davis to “scrap the pointless ID cards” scheme.
The Conservative leader’s attacks on government IT projects follow prime minister Gordon Brown’s pledge to last week’s Labour party conference that the government would “provide hand held computers - 1,000 now, by next year 10,000 right across the country” to police, in a move aimed at “cutting paper work so that officers can log crimes on the spot, stay on the beat and not waste time returning to the station to fill out forms”.