NPfIT

A Giant Stumbles and Falls — What Happened to the NHS IT Program?

The British government announced October 22 that it is going to “axe” the 2002 National Programme for IT (NPfIT). In April 2005, the UK Department of Health announced the formation of NHS Connecting for Health (CfH) that was responsible for delivering the NPfIT. Initially expected to cost £2.3 billion ($3.5 billion) over three years, the program quickly grew to £12.4 billion ($19.1  billion) and in a 2007 report by the public accounts committee it was projected that the project could cost up to £20 billion ($30.9 billion). It was one of the largest technical projects in the world (until the announcement of the HITECH Act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009).

Approximately £6.4 billion ($9.9 billion) has been spent to date.

According to eHealth Insider, “the future of CfH will be clarified in a report on the future of health informatics that is due later this autumn.”

The Commons Select Committee stated:

“The Department has accepted it is unable to deliver its original vision of a uniform care records system with an electronic record for every NHS patient. It is now relying on individual NHS trusts to develop systems compatible with those in the Programme, which means that different parts of the country will have different systems.”

There were high expectations for the UK national program; however, a top-down approach to implementation, significant delays, cost overruns, and a lack of clinician involvement factored in the failure.

A number of components were successful and will be retained including the Choose and Book system and NHS mail, but much of the program will be wound down.

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