Some welcome news but we need more detail!
2020health welcomes today’s announcement from the Government about the future of the National Programme for IT in the NHS. We are pleased to see that the way forward appears consistent with the recommendations from our report “Fixing NHS IT – a plan of action for a new government” published in March.
In particular, we welcome the approach towards more locally driven procurement, more modular implementation, retention of key national infrastructure, and the prospect of significant cost savings.
However, the brevity of the announcement leaves several key issues unclear and on which our report gave a clear steer for action:
- Without properly joined-up IT, the government will not be able to achieve the White Paper’s vision (para 1.10) for “a better NHS that…is less insular and fragmented, and works much better across boundaries…”. Is the government fully committed and supportive of the need for ‘joined-up IT’ and how will this now be enabled, and under what governance model?
- The risk of a purely local approach to procurement is a return to the highly fragmented position in the 1990s. Standards for inter-operability have yet to reach the maturity level to ‘plug and play’. Where feasible, NHS organisations will want to cooperate together to get best value from procurement through robust frameworks and sharing of best practice.
- What is the future of the Care Records Service, and in particular the Summary Care Record and the detailed care record, especially in view of the on-going difficulties in rolling out local hospital implementations?
- Major decisions are faced around key national infrastructure and systems – eg adapting Choose & Book for the greater patient choice advocated by the White Paper; the renewal of the N3 national network ; accelerating the benefits from widespread electronic prescriptions.
What elements of a centralised NHS IT organisation will remain to set strategic direction, set standards and ensure the IT implications of new NHS policy are reflected in implementation plans?