MPs call for national care record programme to be abandoned

The national care record programme should be abandoned and NHS trusts allowed to buy any compatible system, a parliamentary watchdog has said.

Photograph: JH Lancy
Photograph: JH Lancy

Edward Leigh MP (Con, Gainsborough), chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said that the government could not expect NHS trusts to deploy systems that do not work. If the situation does not improve within six months, he added, ‘the DoH should consider allowing trusts to apply for funding for alternative systems’.

His committee colleague, south Norfolk Conservative MP Richard Bacon, went further, and called for the centrally run programme to be dropped immediately.

‘Hospital trusts should now be free to buy the systems they want, subject to common standards, and [funded] through the national programme,’ he said.

In the report on the National Programme for IT, PAC said that the electronic records system was progressing so slowly that even the revised completion date of 2014 - four years late - now looked likely to be missed.

It also said that the risks to the programme had been heightened by the fact that two of the four Local Service Providers had abandoned it, and warned that many trusts would be obliged to pay for systems, even if they choose not to use them.

Mr Bacon added that many of the programme's successes were either 'peripheral or quite unremarkable'.
‘No one is going to be impressed that the NHS has discovered broadband,’ he said.

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