News / Delayed NPfIT to save £1bn

04 June 2008

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The National Programme for IT (NPfIT) has been delayed by four years but the Department of Health believes it will save more than £1bn over 10 years, according to the National Audit Office.

In its second report on the IT programme, the NAO said it was unlikely every trust in England would implement the care records system element of NPfIT before 2013/14. However, it concluded the NPfIT vision remained feasible.

The Department estimated NPfIT saved £208m to 31 March 2007 and estimated annualised recurrent savings of £119m – this would lead to total savings of £1.1bn over the 10 years to 2013/14. The Department now believes the total figure will be higher than this.

However, slow uptake of the initiative at local level has sparked payments from the Department to local service providers because minimum contracted levels had not been achieved.

The NAO said the picture archiving and communication system had yielded the most tangible benefits to date, for example by helping reduce diagnostic waiting times. The benefits from other parts of the system had yet to be realised, though trusts believed they would come in time.

Tim Burr, head of the NAO, said the challenge had proved more difficult than expected. But he added: ‘Progress is being made and financial savings and other benefits are beginning to emerge.’

It later emerged that further delays were possible as NHS Connecting for Health (CfH) terminated a contract with Fujitsu, the local service provider across the south of England. CfH said it would continue to protect the interests of the taxpayer and acknowledged the company’s efforts in providing key information services to trusts.

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