Electronic patient record scheme not cost-effective, NAO says

The £2.7bn spent on creating electronic care records for every patient has not provided value for money, the National Audit Office has said.

In a report into the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), the NAO said it had ‘no grounds for confidence’ that the remaining planned spend of £4.3bn for the electronic care records will deliver value for money.

The NAO said the rate at which electronic care record systems were being put in place across the NHS was falling far below expectations and that the aim that every patient should have an electronic record would not be achieved in the programme’s lifetime.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said the DoH now needs to admit that it is in 'damage-limitation mode'.

He said: 'The original vision for the NPfIT in the NHS will not be realised. This is yet another example of a department fundamentally underestimating the scale and complexity of a major IT-enabled change programme.'

Around £6.4bn has been spent on the programme as of the end of March this year. Of this, £2.7bn has been spent on creating electronic care records. The cost of the NPfIT in its entirety is forecast to total £11.4bn.

Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said the committee will question the government on whether the programme should be stopped.

She said: ‘We cannot and will not sit back any allow more public money to be spent with ever diminishing returns.’

A DoH spokesman said the DoH agreed that change was needed and that the original vision of the programme was ‘flawed’. He said: ‘This report from the NAO highlights major concerns with the pace and scale of delivery of information systems under the NPfIT.’

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