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NAO rebuts BBC claims on NHS IT

'We didn't edit criticisms'

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The National Audit Office (NAO) has hit back at BBC claims that it toned down criticisms about the progress of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in its recent report.

Speaking to GC News, an NAO spokesperson said the criticisms were unfounded because "the overall conclusions (in the report) had remained unchanged".

BBC's Radio 4's World At One programme said it has obtained documents showing passages were removed during the consultation process of the Department of Health: The National Programme for IT in the NHS report released in June 2006.

The NAO spokesperson said amendments are always made during the "clearance stage" to which which all works in progress are subjected.

The BBC said it had evidence that a phrase in the report saying the government had been "slow in securing the engagement and commitment of the NHS to the programme" became "more work was needed in engagement". Also, a line on "insufficient trainers to train NHS staff" was taken out: instead the report said staff considered the biggest barrier to implementation was a lack of knowledge and training.

A section saying the "NHS currently lacks the sufficient skills" to deliver the programme was also deleted.

The new systems include an online booking system, a centralised medical records system for 50m patients, e-prescriptions and fast computer network links between NHS organisations. The National Programme for IT aims to link 30,000 GPs to nearly 300 hospitals by 2014.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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