18 May 2007 | Paul Snell
Many computer systems in the NHS are so out of date that some NHS trusts have had to buy parts for them from eBay.
The revelation comes in a report published this week by the British Medical Journal, which criticised delays to the NHS' National Programme for IT.
One medical director told the study: "Our path system is extremely out of date, it's not just obsolescent, it's obsolete. When we had to buy some bits for it recently we had to buy them through eBay from someone in America because there are no bits in this country."
Other directors told the study the delays in implementing the 10-year, £12.4 billion programme were forcing some trusts to buy their own new systems. "One of the options I have is to say 'to hell with it, I'll just go out and buy one.' Well, that's the decision that some of my peers are making elsewhere," one outpatient manager told the study.
Trusts were also critical that the delays to the system were putting the health of patients at risk. The study concluded although support for the programme remained high among trusts, more concrete details about implementation times and value for money were needed.