Sunday, 16 March 2008

NHS IT "considerably underspent"

It is pretty rare – actually probably unprecedented – to report that a Public Sector IT project has actually paid its suppliers considerably less than it had expected. To March 2007, the NHS IT’s main suppliers – CSC, BT, Fujitsu, iSoft and Cerner – had been paid £1.3b whereas the forecast was £2.8m. This just shows how much pain these suppliers must have (indeed some still are) suffering. It also shows how effective (some claim ‘too effective’) the contracts that the much maligned Richard Granger negotiated actually proved to be.

Of course, it’s not quite as ‘good’ as it seems because the main reason for this is that the project is behind schedule – particularly the Care Records Systems. However, some other parts of the project seem already to be producing some rather encouraging savings. The National Network – N3 supplied by BT - had provided savings of £192m between Mar 2004 and Mar 2007 and is estimated to save £95m pa into the future. An estimated £1.14b in savings are expected by 2014.

How the figures released by the Dept of Health will be received will vary on your entrenched position. I’m sure my friend Tony Collins at Computer Weekly will use them as further evidence of a failed Government IT project. Maybe I’m entrenched too because I have long believed that, by 2014 when the current contracts end, the NHS IT project will have been implemented successfully across the country and ‘taken for granted’ by the great British public – in much the same way as the fast and efficient way today you can get a Passport, renew your vehicle licence, calculate your PAYE etc. I use these examples as they were all initially example of IT disasters.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been many mistakes in this project. Indeed I have highlighted many of them over the years! But it is very rare to see any of the benefits of the project ever given any publicity.

I know a lot of HotViews readers are interested in the NHS IT project – indeed some of your jobs depend on it!. So can I commend you read the follows:

eHealth Insider 14th Mar 08 NPfIT spent half total planned in first three years
Financial Times 14th Mar 08 Tough NHS contracts push IT scheme under budget
Computer Weekly 14th Mar 08 NHS IT spends £1.5b less than expected
Financial Times 13th Mar 08 NHS faces test of gauging savings success

Or you could even read the original Department of Health/Connecting for Health Press Release issued on 14th Mar 08 NHS IT programme forecasts better care and billions in savings.

No comments: