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Monday 24th October 2016

IT programme budget cuts

8th December 2009

SA Mathieson, editor of SmartHealthcare.com which provides news and analysis of health and social care ICT, raises concerns over plans to cut health service computing.


While billions of pounds could be saved in government IT by cancelling projects such as identity cards it seems chancellor Alistair Darling has his sights on NHS IT.

But it is too late for the government not to see the National Programme for IT through: the £554m lifetime cost of the N3 broadband network run by BT to link NHS sites has all been spent, while Choose and Book has been running for some time.

The programme to provide local patient record systems to NHS trusts is running late and with only £4.5bn of the programme’s £12.7bn projected cost by 2014/15 spent, the prospect of cutting back on the project must seem tempting for Mr Darling.

That would leave the NHS with a system of patient records varying from paper in some hospital wards to computerised in many GP surgeries.

Electronic patient record systems are not a “pricey indulgence” as can be seen from Scotland's four-year-old Emergency Care Summary record system. France, America and Canada are looking to have electronic health records and even parts of England are making computerisation work.

The government has already given trusts in the south permission to buy such systems from an approved list, rather than the single suppliers dictated elsewhere after Fujitsu walked away from dealing with this area of the country last year.

That could be extended to the rest of the country.


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