A Department of Health review of the National Programme for IT has concluded that a centralised, national approach is no longer required, and that a more locally-led plural system of procurement should operate, whilst continuing with national applications already procured.
A new approach to implementation will take a modular approach, allowing NHS organisations to introduce smaller, more manageable change, in line with their business requirements and capacity. NHS services will be the customers of a more plural system of IT embodying the core assumption of ‘connect all’, rather than ‘replace all’ systems. This reflects the coalition government’s commitment to ending top-down government and enabling localised decision-making.
The review of the National Programme for IT has also concluded that retaining a national infrastructure will deliver best value for taxpayers. Applications such as Choose and Book, Electronic Prescription Service and PACS have been delivered and are now integrated with the running of current health services. Now there is a level of maturity in these applications they no longer need to be managed as projects but as IT services under the control of the NHS. Consequently, in line with the broader NHS reforms, the National Programme for IT will no longer be run as a centralised national programme and decision making and responsibility will be localised.
Health Minister, Simon Burns, said:
“Improving IT is essential to delivering a patient-centred NHS. But the nationally imposed system is neither necessary nor appropriate to deliver this. We will allow hospitals to use and develop the IT they already have and add to their environment either by integrating systems purchased through the existing national contracts or elsewhere.
“This makes practical sense. It also makes financial sense. Moving IT systems closer to the frontline will release £700 million extra in savings. Every penny saved through productivity gains will be reinvested to improve patient care.”
Director General for Informatics, Christine Connelly, said:
“It is clear that the National Programme for IT has delivered important changes for the NHS including an infrastructure which the NHS today depends on for providing safe and responsive health care. Now the NHS is changing, we need to change the way IT supports those changes, bringing decisions closer to the front line and ensuring that change is manageable and holds less risk for NHS organisations.”
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