National Body Asks Cameron To Justify NHS IT Cuts

Computer Sciences’ NHS contracts are in the frame as the government cuts its NPfIT spending

The National Health Service (NHS) National Programme for IT (NPfIT) is not dead and buried but is being radically remodelled. However, the Public Accounts Committee has had harsh words with prime minister David Cameron about cutting back on spending.

Public Accounts Committee member Richard Bacon, a strong critic of the programme, urged Cameron not to squander billions on NPfIT.

Poor Value For Money

Cameron admitted he was concerned about the poor value for money that the NHS was getting from suppliers. He said the NHS has already suspended contracts with a major supplier, Computer Sciences (CSC), with a view to cancellation. CSC has reportedly regularly missed deadlines for the installation of the Lorenzo Regional Care system.

The Lorenzo project is intended to provide a single, complete patient record that can be accessed by health professionals within, and beyond, the patient’s healthcare region. The NHS claims it will give individual organisations an unprecedented ability to join up their services and share information.

Bacon suggested that the government should pull back from “squandering” the unspent £4.7 billion from the ailing NPfIT programme and instead “negotiate a way forward that frees up billions of pounds for the benefit of patients”.

The cancellation of the CSC contracts could shave £500 million of the £1.3 billion Cameron has said he will cut from the installation budget. He added that the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health are already examining the contracts with a view to cancelling some of the contracts, if not all.

No new NPfIT contracts will not be signed until after findings of reviews by the Public Accounts Committee, the Major Projects Authority, and the National Audit Office have been made public.