"Today's PAC committee hearing and last week's NAO report provide a damning picture of the National Programme from initial concept through to execution. By now the UK should have had among the best nationwide electronic patient record systems in the world. All that was needed was to set national standards and demand high levels of interoperability, then let trusts choose their own solution. This would have given smaller, more innovative suppliers the chance to provide hospitals with systems that worked and which met their real needs.
"Instead we seem to be in a position where - like the banks - the NPfIT contracts are seen as too big to be allowed to fail, and everyone else has to pay the price. This has left the Government trying to salvage a project which should have been abandoned, or completely re-engineered, long ago. The NHS and its patients have been severely let down.
"If the Government really wants an Information Revolution it should revitalise the drive for a nationwide electronic patient record systems and ease the terms and conditions so that bespoke suppliers in healthcare can compete, which ensures that clinicians have access to all relevant patient data in real time. There have been warm words about encouraging greater choice and creating more opportunities to new suppliers, but swift and decisive action is needed. If savings can be made from the remaining NPfIT contracts the money should be reinvested into helping trusts find the IT solutions they need. This relatively small-scale financial stimulus would do much to help patients, hospitals and the healthcare IT sector."
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