Summary care records are delayed until 2014

A key part of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) is now four years behind schedule, say government auditors.

In a report out last week, the National Audit Office (NAO) says that the programme has made progress and its cost remains unchanged.

But it warned that the electronic Care Records Service, which allows doctors to access patients' medical histories, will not be ready until 2014/15 - four years later than planned.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, IT lead on the GPC, said that the programme's unrealistic deadlines had been 'very damaging'.

'Slipping deadlines for new IT systems and the premature release of systems that are not fit for purpose has (left) doctors disillusioned with the programme,' he said.

The delays are largely because of problems in developing the Lorenzo system used in the north, Midlands and east of England. These problems have forced PCTs to spend time and money on an interim system.

The roll out of Choose and Book is also behind schedule. By the end of March, only 84 per cent of acute trusts had patient records systems compatible with the booking system - some way off the 90 per cent target.

In contrast GP2GP, the patient record transfer system, is running a month ahead of schedule.

The NAO has revised its estimate for the cost of the programme from £12.4 billion up to £12.7 billion, in 2004/5 prices.

But it predicts it will save the NHS £1.1 billion in costs over the decade to 2013/14.

Edward Leigh MP, the chairman of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, said that his committee's previous report on NPfIT had 'given the DoH and the NHS a push in the right direction'.

But he warned that success would rely on the support of NHS staff.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

NAO report

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