Why won’t DoH heed criticism of IT policy?

Why is the DoH behaving like a spoilt child over the National Programme for IT (NPfIT)?

Its reaction to any criticism of the great IT plan or any suggestion for change is the political equivalent of sticking its fingers in its ears and going ‘la la la’ before declaring ‘No! Shan’t!’ repeatedly.

Widespread criticism from experts and stakeholders in other areas has seen major government projects dropped, ministers resigning and in one case the wholesale reform of a government department. But not so with Connecting for Health and the NPfIT.

It seems to have ignored calls for change by IT experts and survey findings, including some of GP’s own, that clinicians have not been engaged in the programme and remain unconvinced of its clinical benefit.

Concerns over the value of Choose and Book, the amount of time it takes up and whether the software works, have been dismissed as the rantings of luddites.

Yet it is difficult to find anyone connected with  it to say any thing positive about the Connecting for Health projects.

Now even MPs are voicing concerns, with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) producing what even the most generous souls would describe as a damning report, which includes evidence from the GP survey. The PAC criticises the DoH for the lack of any analysis of the benefits of NPfIT against its costs, the lack of a coherent timetable and its failure to engage clinicians in the project. In fact it says there is no sign that the programme will deliver tangible benefits during the the current contract period.

Such are the criticisms of the programme that one member of the PAC has called for it to be wound up immediately, although the report merely asks for an urgent review.

This time, the DoH has no excuse for another sulk. The MPs on the PAC are neither users of the system nor ‘disgruntled’ IT experts — perhaps it is time to listen to the facts.

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