Tuesday, January 27, 2009

PAC report on NPfIT

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has today published a damming report on the NHS's National Programme for IT (NPfIT) and Connecting for Health - the atgency "delivering" it. The report entitled "The National Programme for IT in the NHS: Progress since 2006" points out the delays and cost implications of current problems and highlights other issues concerning the the potential effects of the systems on the NHS and its patients.

The media this morning seems full of comment about the financial status of the programme and relationships with suppliers. (see links below) This is not surprising given the remit of the committee, however there is less comment on the lack of clinical functionality in the systems being deployed and the effect of this on the expectations of clinical staff. In addition some important points are made about data security and confidentiality of patient records and the concerns health professionals and the public have about this.

The report says "The Department considers that the current levels of support [from staff] reflect the fact that for many staff the benefits of the Programme are still theoretical," and comments on the requirements on staff to change how they work with little or no consultation.

The tension between the role of suppliers who are responsible for the security of the systems themselves, and NHS organisations and staff who are responsible for keeping secure any data they access are briefly explored. The report also points out "Access to the Care Records Service is controlled through Smartcards and passcodes, though these are not yet in use in all Trusts because early releases of the care records software in London and the South do not support them and the Trusts concerned therefore continue to rely on passwords." The change in the consent model adopted for the sharing of patient records to a "Consent to View" approach is also mentioned.

I hope to post some more thoughts when I've had time to read the report in full.

Further comment and analysis is available from:

BBC News - Warning over fresh NHS IT delays

Times Online - MPs point to 'further delays and turmoil' for £12.4 billion NHS computer upgrade

EHealth Insider - PAC gives NPfIT six months to deliver CRS

HSJ - NHS Confed calls for IT programme overhaul

Public - MPs' recommendations to improve NHS IT - in full

Public - Harsh MP committee report condemns NHS National Programme for IT

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