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MP says NHS IT should be flushed

Leaked report backs sceptics

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A conservative MP has called for the £12.5bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT) to be scrapped after he saw a leaked report that said the NHS was better off without the computer system.

On Sunday, The Observer reported the contents of a leaked report by David Kwo, who had been in charge of implementing the scheme in London. Kwo, it said, had written that "the NHS would most likely have been better off without the national programme".

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, who received the leaked report, called for the NPfIT to be scrapped.

"The billions of pounds already spent could have been used to run 10 district general hospitals for a year," he told the Observer. "Now it is clear that patient safety and public health could be at risk. It is time to halt this programme before things get worse."

Kwo's report described how hospitals were being "forced" to implement old software, just so it looked like NPfIT was delivering something. The Observer reported that just 12 of 176 major English hospitals had implemented the most basic version of software produced by NPfIT.

GPs were implementing their own systems, according to Kwo. He said while NPfIT was meant to join all the NHS's disparate systems together, they were instead "fragmenting further".

The National Care Record, the keystone of a conjoined NHS IT system, is also running about two years late, having originally been expected this year. It is being reconsidered, but some means of sharing patient information around the country would have been required whether NPfIT was implemented or not.

Connecting for Health, the government body running NPfIT, said in a statement its systems would "ultimately" improve patient care by giving NHS organisations around the country access to all patient information.

"Currently, with most existing systems, information stays on the computer where it was originated and can't be accessed by other doctors and nurses to treat patients," it said.

It also said GPs were pleased with the systems they were getting under NPfIT and it knew of none who had chosen to implement their own. ®

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