UK's delayed national health IT programme officially scrapped

The UK's National Health Service is told to scrap the £11 billion IT project to centralize health and patient records, after a string of failures, over-spending and delays.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

The UK's National Health Service (NHS) IT programme, designed to centralise patient records and share patient details across the United Kingdom, has officially been scrapped.

The Department of Health said that it was to "accelerate" the dismantling of the £11 billion ($17 billion) initiative after a Cabinet Office review.

What would have been the biggest civilian IT project in the world, local health trusts will instead be given the power to choose their own IT systems instead, the government is set to announce.

Initiated by Tony Blair's Labour government in 2002, the report issued by the review said that it was "unfit" to provide the modern IT services that the health service needs.

The NHS IT programme has already had £6.4 billion ($9.8 billion) spent on the new centralised service. Originally, £12.7 billion ($19.6 billion) was budgeted for the project, but was later revised down by £1.3 billion ($2 billion).

But after a long-running series of delays and over-spending issues, it was branded "unworkable" by a group of members of parliament last month.

Instead of pumping more money into the already struggling IT programme, it was decided by Cabinet members and other ministers to instead scrap the service and start again.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health did not give a definitive timeline for the project's dismantling, but an "announcement in fall" will determine what might replace the existing system.

The spokesperson added, "instead of replace all, let's connect all", indicating that the very ethos of a centralised system will be forgotten, and focus will instead be on connecting the local trust IT networks together.

It is believed that existing suppliers, including British Telecom (BT), will still be used regionally to provide IT systems to health trusts.


Editorial standards