IT overhaul benefits just one in five trusts

Report on National Programme for IT shows many NHS trusts have still to implement the scheme.

Only a fifth of acute trusts and PCTs have reported benefits from the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT), according to a DoH report.

The remaining 80 per cent have failed to implement NPfIT plans sufficiently enough to give feedback.

Last week, the DoH published the report, which estimates that NPfIT will deliver £1.14 billion worth of savings by 2014. The estimated final cost, however, is £12.4 billion.

To date, the scheme has delivered a total of £208 million in cash savings, but it has cost £2.4 billion since its 2002 launch.

The DoH report also shows that due to delayed roll-out, the programme is under budget by about £1 billion. This data was published in response to a National Audit Office request for a statement on the scheme's progress.

Dr Steven Millar, medical director for the Choose and Book programme and a GP in north London, said the scheme was 'half way to where we wanted to be at this stage'.

While health minister Ben Bradshaw joked that he was still receiving letters about Choose and Book, Dr Millar admitted that GPs were being put off the scheme because of pressure to use it from PCTs.

Despite 98 per cent of GP practices being enabled to use Choose and Book, only half of all referrals are done through the computerised system. Nevertheless, the directed enhanced service that encourages GPs to use it is being scrapped this year.

However, Mr Bradshaw welcomed the report, saying that the NHS IT systems were becoming the 'envy of the world'.

Other schemes under the NPfIT include the introduction of broadband throughout NHS premises (N3), and better access to electronic patient records through the Summary Care Record.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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