UK Government scraps billion-pound NPfIT NHS IT programme

£12 billion scheme dismantled; Govt blames former Labour administration, Former Labour Deputy PM says civil servants 'kept us in the dark'

The UK government has formally announced the scrapping of the National programme for IT in the NHS, dubbing it the biggest IT disaster of the last Labour administration.

The move to "urgently dismantle" the health service IT scheme comes after a series of damming reports from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee and more muted criticism from the public sector spending watchdog the National Audit Office.

The final nail in the £12 billion scheme was announced yesterday with the publication of the government's new Major Projects Authority study of the project.

It will say that the NPfIT scheme, set up in 2002, is not fit to provide services to the NHS. 'There can be no confidence that the programme has delivered or can be delivered as originally conceived,' the Daily Mail reports a leaked copy of the report as stating. The Major Projects Authority recommends the Government 'dismember the programme and reconstitute it under new management and organisation arrangements'.

'The project has not delivered in line with the original intent as targets on dates, functionality, usage and levels of benefit have been delayed and reduced.

'It is not possible to identify a documented business case for the whole of the programme. Unless the work is refocused it is hard to see how the perception can ever be shifted from the faults of the past and allowed to progress effectively to support the delivery of effective healthcare.'

The Mail has since reported that NHS chiefs are glad to see the demise of the scheme.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley put the blame on the previous government. "Labour's IT programme let down the NHS and wasted taxpayers' money by imposing a top-down IT system on the local NHS, which didn't fit their needs.

"We will be moving to an innovative new system driven by local decision-making. This is the only way to make sure we get value for money from IT systems that better meet the needs of a modernised NHS.'

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott blamed civil servants for the debacle, saying they kept ministers in the dark.

Last month, CSC, one of the main contractors alongside BT and Fujitsu on the programme, insisted its work was "going very well" just two weeks after the Public Accounts Committee advised health and Cabinet Office ministers to reconsider the programme.

The PAC said it was so disappointed with CSC's work that it was possible the supplier was no longer fit for any government work. CSC has only delivered its main patient records system to three large trusts in nine years, and representatives have been unable to guarantee it would deliver the systems to all trusts by the current 2015 deadline.

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Tags managementNPfIT NHS IT programme

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