05 July 2006 | Paul Snell
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has questioned health department chiefs over NHS IT procurement.
Following up on the National Audit Office's report, Department of Health: National Programme for IT in the NHS
, the PAC last week quizzed Sir Ian Carruthers, acting chief executive of the NHS, and Richard Granger, director general of NHS IT.
Conservative PAC chairman Edward Leigh asked Carruthers why the Department of Health was trying to force "centrally imposed procurement" on a diverse organisation like the NHS. Carruthers replied that NHS leadership believed national procurement would ensure best practice and value for money. He added that the programme consisted of two parts - national procurement, but with implementation at a local level.
Labour MP Kitty Ussher praised the procurement process and congratulated the purchasing team on successfully negotiating the lowest prices in the world for Microsoft products. She asked why the process had worked so well compared to past projects and Granger replied that adhering to a clear procurement strategy from the start had helped. He later added that the Office of Government Commerce was considering applying the techniques used in this project to others.
Referring to praise over the speed with which contracts were let, Conservative MP Richard Bacon asked Granger if there were incentives in his own contract to carry out this work quickly. Granger said there were "absolutely no incentives" for concluding the procurement process within a given timescale.