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An important Department of Health IT project has suffered a serious, though apparently not fatal, setback.

Proposals for the Integrated Care Records Service project, a scheme for establishing integrated care records for patients and the electronic delivery of prescriptions and appointments, has failed to win wider government approval. A major aspect of the project was to integrate disparate NHS IT systems.

A review of the project, which was put out up for consultation this summer, by the Office of Government Commerce came up with a number of criticisms of the project - effectively forcing it back to the drawing board. The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is the lead agency for government procurement and IT spending.

A Department of Health spokesperson told us that an OGC review came up with a number of "remedial actions" concerning the project, details of which she was not able or willing to discuss.

"Following feedback from the Office of Government Commerce, we'll look at its recommendations and review the best way to proceed in addressing the issues raised," she told us.

This Department of Health review is ongoing, and its presently unclear when the department will come up with an alternative plan.

Our enquiries on the project followed a tip off from a reader who told us the that the "all-singing, all-dancing, solve-everything" Integrated Care Records Service project had fallen at the first hurdle for approval of government projects.

The Department of Health had failed to present a justifiable business case for the project (falling at Gate 1 of Treasury guidelines), he told us. The Department of Health declined to comment on this point. ®

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