Campaigners criticise '£10bn NHS IT overspend'

Summary:The National Health Service's flagship IT project has been criticised by a tax campaign group for running billions of pounds over budget.The NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) has overspent by £10.

The National Health Service's flagship IT project has been criticised by a tax campaign group for running billions of pounds over budget.

The NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) has overspent by £10.4bn, the Taxpayers' Alliance said in a statement on Friday.

"These [government] projects are so poorly planned at the outset," Taxpayers' Alliance policy analyst John O'Connell told ZDNet UK on Friday. "NPfIT costs have spiralled out of control."

O'Connell said that the original government costing for NPfIT had been £2.3bn, but that this figure subsequently ballooned to over £12.5bn in a 2008.

A spokesperson for Connecting for Health, which administrates NPfIT, told ZDNet UK on Friday that the £2.3bn figure had originally been put forward in 2002 as projected costs over three years.

The spokesperson added that the Taypayer's Alliance had been "incorrect to pull that figure of £2.3bn out and say that was the projected cost of the entire programme."

However, when NPfIT was first started in 2002, ZDNet UK has found there were no public projected cost figures for the programme.

The Connecting for Health spokesperson told ZDNet UK on Friday that £2.3bn over three years was first put forward in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) for 2002. This is not correct. CSR 2002 makes no mention of this figure.

When challenged by ZDNet UK to give documentary evidence that the £2.3bn figure was for three years, the spokesperson pointed to a document from February 2004. Aside from being two years after NPfIT started, this document, New NHS IT, states that the £2.3bn was over the first three years, but makes no reference to any government documents from 2002, apart from the 2002 Wanless report, which recommended a doubling of NHS IT funding at the time.

E-Health Insider reported in January 2003 that the £2.3bn was for the first three years of the project, calling the news "long-awaited official confirmation" of the figure.

Topics: Security

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Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com, writing about all manner of security and open-source issues.Tom had various jobs after leaving university, including working for a company that hired out computers as props for films and television, and a role turning the entire back catalogue of a publisher into e-books.Tom eventually found tha... Full Bio

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