NHS admits £13bn IT will fail on original aims

The £12.7 billion National Programme for IT will no longer deliver the full systems originally promised, according to a top NHS executive.

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The £12.7 billion National Programme for IT will no longer deliver the full systems originally promised, according to a top NHS executive.

In the first official admission that the programme will not succeed on its original aims, Ruth Carnall, chief executive of NHS London, said in a letter to trusts that “it will no longer be possible to provide the comprehensive solution that was anticipated in 2003”, as a result of Budget cuts. Some £6 billion has been spent so far.

BT, which saw its £1 billion contract shrink by £112 million in the last month, will no longer provide a dedicated system for sharing records between hospitals, E-Health Insider reported. The hospitals will rely on the Summary Care Record, which does not yet carry referral or discharge information.

Additionally, only around half of London’s acute hospitals, meaning those with an Accident & Emergency unit, will receive the central Cerner Millennium patient administration software. BT will no longer provide systems to ambulance services or GP surgeries. A spokesperson at NHS London said that the resulting increased localisation meant "clinical functionality will be able to be delivered more quickly, providing better and safer care to patients in London".

Meanwhile, the NHS has refused to sign a revised contract with the other lead supplier, CSC, after the company missed a key deadline for delivering the iSoft Lorenzo system to Morecambe Bay Acute NHS Trust. A spokesperson at the Department of Health said she hoped the system would go live and a deal would be signed with CSC, including extra savings.

She added that the changes to the London BT programme reflect “the changing landscape of NHS London, which requires acute hospitals to deliver a range of highly sophisticated and complex services, while less complex care is delivered closer to patients' homes via GP centres”.

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