New blow for NHS supercomputer

MyBrokenComputer The NHS IT programme (NPfIT) is probably the most cited example of excessive waste and abysmal management in big government projects. Expected to cost more than £12 billion (with some reports suggesting the cost could go up to £20 billion), NHS Trusts are beginning to abandon it. A Trust in the North-West has said that they are likely to tender a contract themselves for an IT system, the Health Service Journal reports today.

The Trust in question - Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust - would be the first in the North-West to buy outside the NPfIT's North, Midlands and East Programme for IT grouping. Not only has the programme overrun massively on cost, it's late too. Very late. The Chief Executive of the Trust says that they simply couldn't wait any longer for the system:

“The national programme is way behind timetable and we are not convinced it is going to deliver at all. We have needed to be upgraded for a long time and we have waited and waited, and we have got to the point where in order to deliver modern healthcare we need a new system, and we need it soon.”

As we said in our book How to cut public spending (and still win an election), the NPfIT should be abolished immediately, for four reasons: First, it was never wanted by most NHS clinicians, and they remain opposed; second, it is running way behind schedule, and what has been delivered so far on patient care records doesn’t work properly; third, there are major and unresolved issues over patient confidentiality; and fourth, it is far too expensive.

We can add a fifth: NHS Trusts are abandoning it. We need to abolish this scheme now, before yet more money is wasted. It could save us £1.2 billion a year. And making the NHS less centralised would mean that trusts could tender their own contracts anyway, without buying decisions being imposed on them from Whitehall.

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