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NHS IT behind schedule

17th April 2007

Problems with the NHS IT upgrade have led MPs to call for action to guarantee the provision of adequate service.

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The upgrade is designed to connect over 30,000 GPs with 300 hospitals by 2014. According to a report by the Commons public accounts committee, chaired by Edward Leigh MP, the electronic patient clinical record was two years late. It warned costs could mount to at least £12.4 billion and the upgrade was falling behind schedule.

The report drew into attention the fundamental risks involved with the upgrade. It stated that the success of the programme could transform the management of information within the NHS and lead to "significant improvements." The report cautioned that the failure of the upgrade would cause lasting setbacks and financial problems within the organisation.

Mr Leigh stated: "Urgent remedial action is needed...the programme is not looking good." He called for the Department of Health to "get a grip" on NHS spending and asked the government to allow local trusts to look into alternatives to the troubled patients record system.

Health minister Lord Hunt said the report used information from the National Audit Office (NAO) that was "a year out of date...since then substantial progress has been made and the NAO recommendations have already been acted on." He claimed that costs had not risen and key elements of the upgrade, such as electronic prescriptions, were in use.

 

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