10 Billion Pounds – the Price of NHS-IT Failure

Copyright - The GuardianAbandoned over two years ago the National Programme for IT in the NHS has become one of the biggest government IT project failures of all time and we learn today that the costs of that failure are still increasing.

Amazingly and according to reports from the BBC, The Independent and many other sources, the costs for the abandoned project are still being incurred.

According to the Public Accounts Committee‘s report (PDF version here) it is likely the project will have cost us, the British Taxpayer over £10 Billion!

What is equally amazing is that it looks quite likely that no one single person will be made accountable for this massive waste of money.

We will be studying the report in more detail and will make a further post with some additional comments in the near future.

Information Sharing and the NHS

Dame Fiona Caldicott recently completed the report of her independent review of information sharing in the NHS.

The background behind the review was to see how the NHS needed to strike a balance between the protection of patient information and the use & sharing of information to improve patient care.

There have been a number of reactions to it’s initial findings, but this interesting report in last weeks Computing Magazine examines some of the background issues where existing (and some new) conflicts between the different departments operating under the NHS umbrella may still prevent a successful integrating of information. Not least of all with many Patients still not wanting to have their patient records shared around the NHS organisation.

With all of us very aware of the cost of the last NHS Programme for IT (NPfIT), let’s hope that any shift in policies & procedures required to implement any changes under Caldicott won’t run up yet another huge bill for tax payers with no perceived results

You can download a full copy of the Caldicott report here.

Electronic Patient Record Systems – Are we making progress?

It seems that Electronic Patient Record’s systems for NHS Trusts are about to raise their heads again as news has surfaced that the Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust & the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust are looking to invest millions of pounds in a new electronic patient record system (EPR).

In a joint procurement for a system that will be shared, the two Trusts have issued a tender for an EPR record system which could be worth up to £35 million for the suppliers, see more details here. The plan will be to initially run the system for 10 years with an option to extend it for another five years.

What strikes us as odd is that the Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust is already one of nine Cerner Millennium EPR live sites in the South of England, so why would they need to procure a replacement when the Millennium system has only been in place since 2007 as part of the then NPfIT, later re-badged as NHS Connecting for Health multi-billion IT upgrade project.

A report last July based on information obtained under Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation indicated that the Cerner EPR system had not delivered all the benefits that was expected of it and that work was still on-going to…

“…eliminate “dis-benefits”, but a number of these cannot be addressed “due to them being either fundamental to the way that Millennium is configured or due to contractual /specification issues not within the current remit of the trust to easily influence.”

Will the procurement of a new EPR system look to replace the single Cerner Millennium system with another that can be shared between the two Trusts or will a completely new EPR system be purchase to be shared between the two Trusts? Whichever option is chosen, it looks like the British Taxpayer will be footing a large bill again, so soon after the initial Cerner Millennium implementation.

We’ll keep an eye on this one and report any updates as and when we find them.