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NAO to re-review NPfIT

Shock revisit just three months after first report

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The National Audit Office (NAO) has confirmed that it is to hold a new review of the NHS National Programme for IT.

A spokesperson for the NAO confirmed to GC News that it was planning to produce a fresh report on the programme.

"We have always indicated that we would look at it again," the spokesperson said, adding that "it has not been scoped yet". The new report is not expected until the middle of next year at the earliest.

The move, which was first revealed in Computer Weekly, is not unprecedented – the NAO has previously produced two reports on the Channel Tunnel – but the fact the news has come just three months after the publication of the NAO's first report on NPfIT is a cause for surprise.

When it was taken to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) some members expressed surprise at how flattering it had been about the programme. Since then a first draft, which was more critical and was heavily amended, has become public.

The NAO spokesperson acknowledged that the PAC hearing had a bearing on the decision, attributing it partly to a request for a follow-up study from the chair of the PAC.

A spokesperson for Connecting for Health, the agency responsible for implementing NPfIT, commented: "The NAO have always stated they would be likely to do another report on the programme in the future and NHS CFH has always expected this given the scale and complexity of the programme. Indeed the NAO made mention of this in their report published in June.

"When the NAO choose to do this report at some point in the future NHS CFH will co-operate fully."

NPfIT is providing a new IT infrastructure and central patient records for the NHS throughout England. The NAO has estimated its total cost at £12.4bn.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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