Skip to main content

NHS National Programme For IT Failed To Address Early Problem Warnings

The UK government was alerted in 2004 that prompt actions were needed for addressing issues in its ambitious £12.7 billion programme to rehaul its NHS IT programme, according to official reports.

While ministers were appreciating the development on the NHS IT scheme, preliminary Gateway reviews on the programme slammed it for inadequate planning, specifications, the approach, as well as improper engagement with clinicians.

The first initial review of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) back in June 2002 - also referred to as Gateway Zero strategic evaluation of the scheme - further ascertains that the government 's original estimates for the “whole project cost” were around £5 billion, which overwhelmingly rose to a whopping £12.7 billion.

In addition to this, another review in October 2002 questioned the scheme for using five main suppliers, and quoted that the proposal “seems to be an assumption without justification”.

Later on, a strategic assessment in 2004 revealed that one of the big challenges against NPfIT was NHS's ruling to launch the systems without engaging with staff satisfactorily.

Conclusively, of the 31 reviews put forth by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), in a noteworthy Freedom of Information (FoI) decision, nine required prompted action and offered the “red-status” to the project.

Another 19 out of the 31 reviews received the amber status, implying that the projects could proceed while taking the OGC's recommendations seriously.

Our Comments

The NPfIT has been nothing short of a shambles. One of the world's most expensive civilian projects ever was supposed to bring some order to the fourth biggest organisation in the world with a budget for 2009 of £94 billion. As for the programme itself, the total cost is likely to be significantly more than the £12.7 billion originally earmarked.

Related Links

Early warning failed to put NHS IT back on track (opens in new tab)


Internal reports reveal NPfIT flawed at its launch (opens in new tab)

(Computer Weekly)

NHS Gateway Reviews damn £13bn IT decisions (opens in new tab)


NPfIT failed nine Gateway Reviews (opens in new tab)


Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.