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Failed NHS IT upgrade branded a fiasco

An attempt to upgrade the National Health Service [NHS] computer system has been branded one of the “worst fiascos ever” by MPs.

A report by the Public Accounts Committee [PAC] looked at the failed project and found the attempt at reforming the system became one of the most costly in public sector history.

"This saga is one of the worst and most expensive contracting fiascos in the history of the public sector," PAC member Richard Bacon stated.

Taxpayers are footing the bill for the project with the total price still uncertain and it may now be higher than the £9.8 billion figure estimated by officials earlier this year.

"The department's latest estimate of £9.8bn leaves out the future costs of Lorenzo [a care records system for the North, Midlands and East of England] or the potential large future costs arising from the department's termination of Fujitsu's contract for care records systems in the south of England," Bacon added.

The government announced the project over 10 years ago in 2002 as they aimed to upgrade the way the health service is run by introducing a complex computer system. The system would have made all records electronic as well as introducing digital scanning and integrated IT systems across various levels of the health service.

This was before the project hit technical difficulties and disagreements over contracts eventually meant it was abandoned in 2011. The PAC report added that ministers haven’t learned from the failures that arose from this project with the current problems with the benefit payments reform project illustrating they still have a lot to learn.

The National Audit Office [NAO] criticised the Department for Work and Pensions [DWP] for overspending on the benefits payments IT project that is supposed to change the way welfare payments are handed out. As a result of the failings taxpayers are picking up the £34 million tab after failures linked to the IT portion of the project.