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Department of Health to dismember and reconstitute NPfIT

Department of Health to dismember and reconstitute NPfIT

[London, UK/ Implementations] - The Department of Health (DH) has announced that it is undertaking a review of the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) as the next step in dismantling it and restoring local control over decision making. This follows a major review by the Cabinet Office′s Major Projects Authority (MPA) which said that NPfIT “has not and cannot deliver to its original intent”. The review recommends “to dismember the programme and reconstitute it under new management and organisation arrangements”.
Sir David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS, sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter last week to all NHS chief executives announcing that a review will be led by Katie Davis, Managing Director for Informatics, to look at the “full portfolio of Department of Health informatics applications and services”. The results are expected “in the autumn” along with new governance arrangements to support local decision making.

Sir David said that the review will build on the achievement of applications such as the Spine, N3 Network, NHSmail, Choose and Book, Secondary Uses Service and PACS, which will all carry on providing support to the NHS. The DH says these account for two thirds of the £6.4bn spent on NPfIT so far (but one third according to MPA). Development will continue with national applications such as the Summary Care Record and the Electronic Prescription Service, “which are crucial to improving patient safety and efficiency”. The DH is also working with the ICT trade association Intellect to develop proposals on how to stimulate the healthcare IT and technology marketplace.

Katie Davis, Managing Director for Informatics at the Department of Health, said, “There are two important things we must achieve — the development of a vibrant marketplace for healthcare IT and clarity that we no longer manage delivery centrally unless there is a single, clear requirement across the NHS. We have a great opportunity to build a new way of working which helps patients and clinicians gain the best value for public money.”

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT welcomed the intention to devolve decision making to the local NHS and wind up the old structures of NPfIT, but called for the publication of the long awaited informatics strategy. Mike Sinclair, Vice-Chair Professionalism BCS Health, said, “While we welcome this move, we are concerned however, that this is being done in the absence of an informatics strategy and without any guidance on the future of existing contracts or whether money will be devolved into the NHS alongside responsibility. … We urge the Department of Health to create clarity around funding and contracts, and publish its information strategy to support the Secretary of State′s ′Information Revolution′ which we and other organisations responded to several months ago.” [hw]

[Related information]

Major Projects Authority Review of Department of Health: National Programme for IT  

The BCS report, Preparing the NHS for an Information Revolution  

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