NHS doctors have given the controversial new £12 billion IT system their backing, but say that no more money should be spent on it. In a survey of 3,000 doctors, 66% said they think the new system would make a positive change to the NHS.
In a survey carried out by website Doctors.net.uk for The Times newspaper, 86% of the doctors surveyed said that they thought the scheme should not be abandoned.
Doctors were asked whether they were optimistic that the Connecting for Health IT system would change the way the NHS is run and 91% said yes. When asked if they were sceptical that it will make a positive change, 66% said they were not sceptical.
The programme has been controversial because it has suffered long delays and huge cost over-runs. It has been criticised by government auditors, MPs and attacked by doctors, managers and privacy activists.
The National Audit Office produced a report last year that listed the delays, glitches and cost over-runs and said that the programme had lost the confidence of NHS staff.
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee investigated the scheme last summer, and was told that hasty early decisions and a procurement process running "at breakneck speed", which has in the long run caused lengthy delays. Elements of the project are now running years behind, the hearings were told.
The new survey, though, shows that doctors may be more supportive of the system than was previously thought. Only 14% of them think that it should be abandoned, while 76% do not agree that it has been a frustrating project.
In a clear signal to the Department of Health about how NHS money should be allocated, though, the doctors want Government to put a stop to the seemingly endless approval for cost over-runs. Fully 91% of the doctors said they did not agree that more investment should be made in the system to ensure its success.
A similar survey carried out late last year found that NHS staff felt alienated by the programme, and that the body running it did not listen to or communicate with them. This survey's results appear to indicate either that that feeling is not very widespread amongst doctors, or that their opinions have changed in the past two months.
The scheme has also been involved with controversy over the health records at its heart. OUT-LAW recently revealed that the Department of Health had refused a large number of requests from patients that their details not be uploaded, and that the British Medical Association has threatened to ask doctors to boycott the system. Such a boycott would likely cripple the £12 billion project.