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Hospital Healthcare Europe

Four-year setback for data system

16 May, 2008  

The UK’s national electronic system for patients’ records is to be delayed by four years, meaning it will not be rolled out to every NHS Trust in England until 2014-15.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said there had been “serious delays” in applying new software for the National Programme for IT in the NHS and the government had underestimated the challenges involved.

In a progress report, the NAO concluded that while all elements of the £12.7 billion programme are advancing and some are complete, the original timescales for the Care Records Service – one of the central processes – were “unachievable, raised unrealistic expectations and put confidence in the programme at risk”.

The IT programme involves four main projects: a centralised electronic medical record system for 50 million patients; an online “choose and book” system for booking hospital appointments; electronic prescriptions; and fast network links between NHS organisations.

It is expected to link more than 30,000 GPs in England to almost 300 hospitals.

Due to contractual agreements meaning money would not be paid to suppliers until the systems are in place, the delays have not pushed up the estimated cost of £12.7 billion, the NAO said.

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National Audit Office