Darling will cut back NHS IT plans

Chancellor Alistair Darling was expected to scale back the NHS IT programme in this week's pre-Budget report, as GP went to press.

The chancellor was reported to have said that the electronic patient record system, part of the IT programme, was 'something we don't need to go ahead right now' as the government contemplates cuts to services.

Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary Norman Lamb said: 'The programme has been flawed from the start. It has held back the development of IT at a local level, cost billions and is years behind schedule.'

He called for the entire programme to be scrapped.

Shadow Conservative health secretary Andrew Lansley said: 'Labour has acknowledged what we've said for years, that the procurement for NHS IT was costing billions and not delivering.'

But Dr Grant Ingrams, GPC IT subcommittee chairman, said the system would save money: 'It's an essential tool for clinicians, for doctors and other staff to be able to treat patients. The NHS pays out a third of a billion pounds a year on mistakes; a lot of that could be put right if the IT was in place.'

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