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Volume 461: debated on Tuesday 12 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how has been spent on IT systems in the NHS since 1997. (138616)

The information is not available in the form requested.

Such information as is available derives from revenue expenditure reported each year since 2002-03 through a national survey of information technology investment; and from capital expenditure, including software licences, identified in national health service accounts, and as reported by foundation trusts. The figures do not include expenditure by special health authorities or central expenditure funded by the Department.

Summary figures for the latest year for which information is available (2005-06) is contained in the reply given to the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) on 5 March 2007, Official Report, columns 1693-94W.

Detailed information for 2005-06, including summary information for years since 2002-03, is available on the Department's NHS Connecting for Health agency website at www.connectingforhealth and has been placed in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost of implementing the NHS IT programme has been in (a) Surrey Primary Care Trust and (b) England; what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of the implementation of the NHS IT programme; and if she will make a statement. (138993)

Expenditure under the contracts let for the core components of the national programme for information technology in the national health service in England, as at 31 March 2007, was £1,001.5 million.

Information about local NHS spending by primary care trusts (PCTs), NHS trusts and other NHS organisations on the national programme for information technology, to complement the investment from central funding, is not collected centrally. However, any such spending is very significantly outweighed by the savings accrued locally from participation in the programme. Most notably, some £4.5 billion has been saved by central rather than local procurement, a figure confirmed by independent industry analysts. In addition, savings have been achieved in the prices paid by the NHS for information technology goods and services due to the central buying power of NHS Connecting for Health, as well as in NHS staff time saved through using the programme's systems and services. For example, the National Audit Office have acknowledged savings of £860 million achieved through centrally negotiated enterprise wide arrangements.

In addition, PCTs have been specifically reimbursed for funds spent on upgrading existing general practitioner practice systems to make them choose and book compliant, and funding support has also been made available to support NHS trusts deploying a choose and book compliant patient administration system.

The successes of the national programme are visible every day of the week in hospitals, general practices and pharmacies across the NHS, and the benefits are being experienced by doctors, nurses and, most importantly, by patients. On any typical day the national programme currently enables some 120,000 prescriptions to be transmitted electronically, reducing errors and inefficiencies; 17,000 choose and book electronic bookings to be made, putting patients in charge of their care and reducing significantly the numbers not attending out-patient appointments; almost one-and-a-half million queries to be processed on the patient demographic system, ensuring receipt of around three-quarters of a million letters a year that would otherwise be posted to the wrong address and enabling patient information to be handled more efficiently; over a hundred thousand NHSMail users, each of whom has an e-mail address for life, to send one million secure e-mails, one-third of which contain confidential patient information; five new secure broadband connections to be installed; and some 30,000 general practitioners (GPs) to use the quality management analysis system (QMAS) to deliver better care to patients under the new GP contract.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make available the gateway reviews undertaken by the Office of Government Commerce on the national programme for IT. (139004)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action she has taken in response to each of the recommendations of Section 9 of the National Audit Office report on the national programme for IT in the NHS. (139005)

Where the National Audit Office recommendations called for specific or new action to be taken by the Department, its NHS Connecting for Health agency, or by national health service bodies, action plans have been put in place. Progress towards the various deliverables is being routinely monitored against their respective timescales, some of which have already been achieved.

In relation to individual recommendations, a national programme catalogue has been created and made available to all NHS organisations and staff. The purpose of the catalogue is to demonstrate how the NHS Connecting for Health products currently available support wider NHS policies and initiatives by detailing their functionality and the benefits they can deliver to patients, clinicians and organisations. Regular updates will ensure its continuing relevance and value. Work is ongoing with suppliers and the NHS to agree engineering-based timetables for delivery and to ensure that these timetables take NHS requirements into account. Governance arrangements are in place to consider any changes which impact upon local service providers in order to ensure that suppliers can achieve what is planned.

The national programme communications strategy has been reviewed and updated. Ways of working with strategic health authority (SHA) communications leads have been agreed and implemented. A plan of key milestones for delivery of the programme is being developed for communication with NHS organisations and staff.

NHS Connecting for Health continues its strong management of suppliers and their performance.

The first annual benefits report, for 2006-07, will be produced in autumn 2007 to coincide with the publication of planning materials for NHS organisations. Future annual benefits reports will be produced in partnership with the strategic health authorities.

The annual survey of NHS information management and technology expenditure is being complemented by studies of the impact of national programme deployments on local NHS IT expenditure.

Post-implementation reviews are being carried out to identify and quantify the service and efficiency improvements of new IT systems. The Department and NHS Connecting for Health, in partnership with the SHAs, are supporting a series of benefits demonstrators at local sites that will evaluate experiences and compile evidence of benefits achieved.

Analysis of current areas for improvement is taking place in order to produce evidence-based development plans to create sustainable capability in the NHS. A range of projects, and training and development elements, are being grouped together under a capability and capacity work stream, and the education, training and development work stream is being strengthened.

Relevant and appropriate clinicians continue to contribute to the effective identification of requirements, design and testing of systems being delivered under the programme. NHS Connecting for Health has appointed a Chief Clinical Officer to lead the clinical engagement and clinical contribution the programme. A national clinical lead for patient safety has been appointed. Further national clinical leads are to be recruited for pharmacy, physiotherapy, mental health and midwifery. Consideration is being given to how to take on other national clinical leads to cover important areas of engagement.