NHS CEO tries to keep NPfIT alive

NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson - who's also overall senior responsible owner of the NPfIT - has written to chief executives of all trusts and strategic health authorities in England about plans for health service reforms.His letter is...

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NHS Chief Executive Sir David Nicholson - who's also overall senior responsible owner of the NPfIT - has written to chief executives of all trusts and strategic health authorities in England about plans for health service reforms.

His letter is entitled "Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS -  Managing the Transition." 

He refers - without explanation - to the need to clarify how the NPfIT will be maintained during the transition.

"One major issue identified is the need to clarify how the National Programme for IT services currently delivered by the SHAs and PCTs will be maintained during the transition. Proposals on this are being prepared for consideration by the National Programme Board."

The signs, behind the scenes, are that the Nicholson, the Department of Health and NHS Connecting for Health are trying as far as possible to keep central control of NHS IT while being seen to devolve control and decisions to trusts.

One difficulty Nicholson faces is that many trusts have taken "interim" systems under the NPfIT while waiting for Lorenzo, and these cannot be left without an upgrade path. The NPfIT can also be kept alive by managing centrally - as far as it is feasible under a de-centralising government - NHS IT in the south. 

But why are  Nicholson, the Department of Health and NHS Connecting for Health so anxious to keep the NPfIT alive, or at least maintain that it hasn't failed? 

The NPfIT, in most of its forms, is in a mess, I am told. So perhaps it has become the preoccupation of officialdom to avoid telling us, the public, that it's a mess. 

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