Doctors lose faith in NHS IT programme

A Medix survey shows that only one percent of GPs believe that the NHS is likely to deliver on its goals for the National Programme for IT

Most doctors have lost all confidence in the Government's ability to deliver real improvements in healthcare through its controversial NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) which is beset with "distrust and cynicism", according to the results of a survey released on Tuesday.

Only one percent of more than 1,300 doctors surveyed by research firm Medix rated progress on the national plan as good or excellent.

Support for the programme is lowest among GPs with 75 percent rating progress so far as poor or unacceptable.

The NPfIT was introduced with the intention of wiring up the NHS and giving patients and doctors a wide range of new electronic services for booking appointments, providing electronic records and better management of healthcare.

Doctors have been losing confidence in the NPfIT for some time, but until recently many were reasonably confident the programme could deliver on many of its goals. Three years ago, almost half of all doctors said they believed that the massive spending involved in the NPfIT was a good use of resources.

According to this latest survey, only 17 percent said they thought that was true now.

The loss of confidence comes in the light of the warning in November 2005 from NPfIT boss, Richard Granger, that there is a real danger that the whole project could be derailed by problems with a system that allows patients to book their own appointments.

The £24m 'Choose and Book' system is meant to allow patients to choose from at least four hospitals when booking an outpatient appointment through their GP surgery.