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Volume 490: debated on Thursday 26 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of the NHS IT programme; and what recent assessment he has made of progress on the programme. (265647)

The overall cost of the NHS Information Technology (IT) programme includes both central costs, and the costs managed by local NHS bodies incurred in implementing the systems, for example in training staff and upgrading computer hardware. Local information is not routinely collected in a way that differentiates expenditure on the IT programme from other local IT-related expenditure.

The latest estimate of the overall cost is contained in Figure 7 on page 26 of the National Audit Office (NAO) report ‘The National Programme for IT in the NHS: Progress since 2006’, which can be found at:

Of this total, the NAO estimated that some £3.5 billion had been spent as at 31 March 2008.

Many of the programme’s systems have already been successfully delivered, and most of the infrastructure, including the network and central databases, are in place, as are the choose and book systems, and Picture Archiving and Communications (digital imaging) systems in every acute trust. All acute trusts and general practices in England, and over 90 per cent. of primary care trusts, are using systems delivered as part of the programme. The NHS in England could not now function without the systems which the programme has delivered.

Progress has been slower than anticipated with the NHS care record service at local trust level. We continue to work closely with suppliers to ensure that software is fit for purpose before deployment, and are in discussions aimed at ensuring that appreciable improvements are achieved by the end of 2009. We remain confident in the potential of both the Cerner Millennium and Lorenzo systems to be able to support the NHS in the longer term.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish the Office of Government Commerce gateway reviews of the NHS IT programme. (266219)

We are reviewing our previous policy not to disclose the review reports in light of the recent decision by the Office of Government Commerce to disclose two Gate 0 review reports on the identity cards programme. No final decision has yet been taken.