Lansley promises local GP IT choices and reveals £1.8bn saving

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has promised top down IT management of the NHS will end in an initiative to encourage GPs to propose their own ideas locally, but has admitted work will be led nationally by the NHS Commissioning Board.

Andrew Lansley: 'The idea that this will lead to fragmentation is nonsense.’
Andrew Lansley: 'The idea that this will lead to fragmentation is nonsense.’

At the launch on Thursday of the Chief Clinical Information Officers Leaders' Network, at the Royal College of Physicians, in London, Mr Lansley revealed that the DH has managed to negotiate a reduction of £1.8bn in its contract with CSC, the largest supplier of the scrapped National Programme for IT.

Mr Lansley promised the savings would be invested back into the NHS and there would be more flexibility for NHS workers to suggest IT proposals, citing examples in Northern Ireland where GPs use dashboards to see medication costs against the budget.

He talked of ‘GPs as customers in the market’ sharing information, adding: ‘We are now putting local clinicians in the driving seat, able to reap the benefits of the explosion in information and technology which is re-shaping the world beyond the NHS.

‘In the past doctors and nurses have had to bend over backwards to fit in with the needs of the systems introduced to their workplaces. They were shackled with rigid, expensive IT contracts that failed to deliver as intended.’

Consultant radiologist from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London, Dr Nicola Strickland, told Mr Lansley at the launch, that one of the largest edicts of all time was his Bill which will ‘completely fragment the NHS and prove difficult for sharing information’.

Mr Lansley replied: ‘This is not an edict. It is the architecture for empowering people, in the clinical commissioning groups to manage their own affairs. The idea that this will lead to fragmentation is nonsense.’

Under the new initiative, the NHS Commissioning Board will ‘champion’ national standards for local commissioners. But new national initiatives will only happen when there is a ‘clear need across the NHS’.

Mr Lansley added: ‘We will make more progress on the details in the coming months.’

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