17 April 2007 | Antony Barton
The Department of Health must take "urgent remedial action" to save the NHS IT programme and protect the interests of patients and taxpayers, according to a parliamentary select committee.
In a report issued today, the Committee for Public Accounts concludes the National Programme for IT in the NHS is running two years behind schedule. Suppliers are also struggling to deliver, with the largest - Accenture - having withdrawn.
It also says the department is unlikely to complete the programme anywhere near its original schedule and must do more to win support for the project from employees in the NHS.
The programme was set up to provide the NHS with more IT, using centrally-managed procurement to secure economies of scale. Expenditure on the project is expected to be £12.4 billion over 10 years, to 2013-14.
Edward Leigh, chairman of the committee, said the department must "get a grip" on what it and the NHS are spending and thrash out with its suppliers a robust delivery timetable. The committee also recommends a review of the ability of suppliers and local service providers to deliver against their contracts.
Leigh concluded by saying that if IT systems could not be delivered within the programme, then the local NHS should be given greater freedom to look for alternative systems that do work.