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Outsourcing IT “could cost £4.5bn”

It could cost the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) an extra £4.5bn to buy in IT services currently being provided under the £12.7 billion National Programme for IT (NPFIT), MPs have been told.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw made the announcement after IT supplier Fujitsu became the second company to reveal it was terminating its involvement with the programme.

The problem is a financial one, with doubts being raised over whether the government can deliver the NPFIT at costs agreed in its initial contracts. Some analysts have said the plans should be reconsidered, with local trusts instead being allowed to choose their own systems.

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But Mr Bradshaw warned against such a move, saying that individual trusts would not be able to afford it. “Each NHS trust undertaking procurements for IT solutions would cost £4.5bn more,” he said, citing an unspecified “independent review”.

Martyn Hart, chairman at the National Outsourcing Association, commented: “It seems as if the NHS and Department for Health picked a one-size-fits-all system and rammed it down the throats of local trusts. The stakeholders maybe didn’t want to go this way, so why did the government drive it through?”

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