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Savings hit by NHS IT delays

14th March 2008

The government has admitted that potential savings likely to have been made from the £12.4bn NHS IT project in England have been hit by delays to key parts of the programme.

Estimates compiled from data taken from about 20% of NHS trusts show that the programme was already on course to make savings of £1.14bn.

While government ministers say the figure is a positive sign, they have acknowledged that the saving – from what is the biggest non-military IT scheme in the world - could have been greater.

The system is designed to link 30,000 GPs to almost 300 hospitals by 2014 but key parts have been running up to two years behind schedule. The “choose and book? online appointments element of the project is the worst affected. However, digital imaging and scanning implementation had gone well, offering early savings of £208m.

The figures were contained in the government’s benefits statement for the National Programme for IT and show the project has to date under-spent by 40%, indicating the extent of the delay.

Richard Jeavons, a senior IT official at the Department of Health, said: “We can be positive about the evidence emerging. Of course, if we had not had delays we would be further ahead.?

Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said some benefits, such as staff having quicker access to records, could not be costed but shadow health minister Stephen O’Brien was critical of the fact only £208m had been saved so far. He called it “peanuts? compared to the cost of the programme.

 

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