Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Damming NAO report on NPfIT

The national Audit Office has today released its latest report: The National Programme for IT in the NHS: an update on the delivery of detailed care records systems saying that "the £2.7 billion spent so far on care records systems does not represent value for money" and "the systems are mainly providing administrative benefits, rather than the expected clinical ones."

I haven't finished reading the full document yet, but what I have read has confirmed the worries many of us have been expressing for a while (see my previous comments).

The positive developments in building a broadband network and sharing X-rays are highlighted, however the very limited development on the roll out of electronic health records (both summary care records and detailed care records), which has changed from big bang to more locally driven, is described as "falling well below expectations".

I'm not sure I agree with the claim that "the Department has now overcome the ethical issues that delayed implementation of the Summary Care Record" the financial and organisational nightmares are clearly detailed. The models used to measure progress are criticised and claims that in "London and the South 91 per cent of the functionality for the acute system has been proven to work" and "64 per cent of the acute system to be provided in the North, Midlands and East has also been developed" are described as being an "overly positive position on progress"!

The report has generated significant media coverage and discussion:
The Guardian reports that the "Government [has been] urged to abandon NHS IT programme". The BBC says "£7bn NHS electronic records "achieving little' for patients" and Jon Hoeksma in EHealthInsider (where lots of discussion is taking place) describes the report as "coruscating".

It will be interesting to see the response to the report from the Department of Health and government politicians, and how future developments will be affected by this report and the current "pause" and "consultation" on the Health and Social Care Bill.

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