Regulation

Shake-up For Troubled NHS IT Project

A new organisation will be created to manage much of the health service’s National Programme for IT, according to reports.

The main organisation charged with managing the NHS’s £12.7bn National Programme for IT project (NPfIT) is to be usurped by a new Department of Health group, reports claim.

According to E-Health Insider, which claims to have seen internal documents about the shake-up, NHS Connecting for Health (CfH) will have some of its existing remit replaced by a newly formed DH Informatics Directorate. The new group will consist of six directors reporting directly to the NHS chief information officer for health Christine Connelly and Tim Straughan, chief information officer of the NHS Information Centre.

Responding to the reports of the shake-up, which will reportedly come into effect in April, the Department of Health released the following statement: “The Director General for Informatics is building up core functions required to ensure the development and delivery of the overall informatics strategy for the health and social care system. These changes are about increasing the focus of Connecting For Health on delivery and accelerating the implementation of National Programme systems.”

The changes to the remit of the CFH could be seen as a response to rising costs and criticism of the management of the with the NPfIT programme which once stood at around £6bn but has now nearly doubled.

The NHS (NPfIT) is allegedly the world’s largest civilian IT project. Broadly a modernisation of key elements of the NHS IT system including broadband and networking, it also includes a controversial scheme to create an electronic patient record system known as the NHS Care Records Service.

BT is the main contractor for the project which has seen costs spiral, other contractors come and go and there have been several changes to the NHS leadership of the project.