Govt IT scheme 'set NHS back 10 years'

The chief executive of an NHS trust that opted out of the Government's National Programme for IT has slammed the scheme, labelling it "Not Fit For Purpose IT".

Brian James, chief exec of the Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, told delegates at yesterday's Smart Healthcare Live conference in London that the National Programme for IT had "put back the contribution of IT in the NHS by more than ten years".

Rotherham became one of the first NHS trusts to ditch the Government's NPfIT scheme. Executives at the trust expressed their concern that plans for an electronic patient record system were slipping behind schedule.

The trust rejected the NPfIT's Lorenzo system, provided by much-criticised supplier CSC, and instead opted for the Meditech v6.0 system from FileTek in a project that cost the trust £40 million.

CSC came under fire earlier this year after missing a March deadline to roll out a pilot Lorenzo to the Morecambe Bay Primary Healthcare Trust. The project eventually went live on 1 June.

"We are one of the bad boys who left NPfIT," James said of the trust's decision. "But we think we have a unique and completely fit-for-purpose solution that will deliver between eight to ten per cent return on our investment."

James told delegates: "We were promised NPfIT products in 2005 that didn't appear, and our supplier said it would withdraw from the healthcare market in 2010 anyway."

The Rotherham healthcare chief told the conference that the decision hasn't been easy.

"This has also been a complex programme to manage by ourselves, with complex negotiations to make our supplier adapt and Anglicise the system... as well as stiff project management issues all round. But we feel we have delivered something that will really benefit us nonetheless."

The ailing NPfIT scheme's prognosis is still uncertain. A spokesperson for the Department of Health told THINQ that, following the recent change of government, they were still waiting for policy direction.