Blair backs NPfIT

Keeping the faith

The prime minister has declared his faith in the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

Tony Blair stated his support in response to a parliamentary question from Conservative MP Richard Bacon.

Bacon asked how much has been spent on the programme. The prime minister answered that, up to the end of March 2006, expenditure on the contracts let at its outset was £654m.

He took the opportunity to repeat the National Audit Office's approval of its progress and "tight control", and that it is planned to connect more than 30,000 GPs in England to over 300 hospitals.

Bacon followed up by asking for an assurance that suppliers who fail to deliver on the contracts would not be paid, citing the case of iSoft. The company is one of the biggest suppliers to the programme and has recently reduced its profits forecast due to factors related to NPfIT.

Blair said he was not aware of the example, but took the chance to express his faith in the programme.

"In the end, one of the huge benefits of having a National Health Service is that we can have electronic patient records that are transferable right around the system," he said. "If that happens, it means not just an end to vast amounts of paperwork in the NHS, but that things such as patient choice, for example, can become a reality."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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