Feeds

NHS IT spree faces cutbacks

Burnham coughs to cuts of £600m

High performance access to file storage

Update The chancellor Alistair Darling this weekend appeared to signal the pre-Budget report will include some major cuts to the £12.7bn NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

The hints, dropped in an interview on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday, have already drawn protests from doctors.

Darling said: "I'm not doing a spending review just now. But I do think it is necessary for me on Wednesday to indicate areas where we are going to cut spending, or where we're not going to spend as much as we were.

"For example, the NHS had a quite expensive IT system that, frankly, isn't essential to the frontline. It's something that I think we don't need to go ahead with just now. But I will be setting out a clear direction of travel because it's important that we do that."

His statement prompted speculation that the entire NPfIT - which has been dogged by delays and overspending - could be scrapped, but the Treasury has since indicated the cuts are likely to be more limited.

It's unclear which particular contracts or features will be targeted. Large parts of the NPfIT are already implemented or being built, and the picture is different for different regions. A Treasury spokesman wasn't immediately available to comment.

The British Medical association, which represents doctors, said the government's claim the technology wasn't needed on the front line was wrong.

"It's ridiculous for Alistair Darling to say 'it isn't needed, it isn't frontline' - it is," Dr Grant Ingrams said in a TV interview.

"The way [the NPfIT] was procured years ago was wrong and could have been done better... but now it's getting to the point where it's going to be rolled out soon I think [cutting back] is short sighted, I think it's going to waste money."

Any attempts by Ministers to break contracts could prove costly. Fujitsu, which left the project last year after a dispute over terms, is currently in negotiations on its £700m compensation claim.

The Conservatives sought political capital from Darling's comments, branding it a "U-turn". They plan to ditch the centralised system and allow local NHS Trusts to run their own IT procurement processes. ®

Update

Health secretary Andy Burnham told the commons today that the planned cuts would amount to £600m over the lifetime of the project, but insisted that the NHS "could not function" without the benighted IT scheme.

Answering an urgent question on the scheme, he said the revamped plant would "pare back the programme to the core elements."

Nevertheless, the BBC reports, Burnham insisted it was a "myth" to say the scheme had been "a waste".

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.