Government opens up NHS IT

Patients and doctors will be able to have their say on the new £5bn NHS National Programme for IT

The government has set up a new body of patients and healthcare professionals to help smooth delivery of the £5bn NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

Although the IT contracts for the project were procured in record time and on budget by NHS IT director general Richard Granger, criticisms have been levelled by some clinical bodies and NHS Trust staff around the country who say that the delivery timetable is too aggressive.

In response to the scale of process change and staff training that will be needed to ensure effective implementation of the NHS IT programme, the Department of Health has created the Care Record Development Board (CRDB). It will be chaired by Harry Cayton, the DoH's director for patients and the public and will comprise patients and healthcare professionals.

The CRDB will provide clinical and patient input into the development of the NPfIT and replaces the programme's existing Patient Advisory Board and National Clinical Advisory Board.

Health minister John Hutton said in a statement: "The new board has a vital role to play in improving care for patients. It will ensure the NHS develops patient-centred care processes that are supported by the IT being delivered by the National Programme. The work of the board will enable wider consultation and input into the way the NHS Care Records Service is being developed."

Harry Cayton, chair of the CRDB, said the core work of the board will be carried out by "action teams" that will define the processes within care and across the care boundaries that will be enabled through the use of IT. For example, an action team may be required to address and define the care processes involved in electronic prescribing, he said.

The work of the board will be made publicly available and a conference for stakeholders is planned for November 2004.

There will be three deputy chairs on the board -- Professor Sir Cyril Chantler, chair of the King's Fund, Talib Yaseem, director of nursing for North Cumbria Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, and a remaining deputy chair from social care to be appointed.