The government is trying to fix a quick deal with suppliers for its controversial £12.7bn NHS IT programme ahead of the next General Election, the BBC has been told.
Last December Chancellor Alistair Darling said NHS spending which was not front line, such as parts of the IT project, should be shelved in the coming round of spending cuts.
The ambitious scheme, which aimed to make patient records digitally available to every surgery and hospital in England, is years behind time. Originally planned to be completed in 2006, 2015 is the latest estimate for full implementation.
I’m no great fan of government IT projects. For reasons I can’t discern they just can’t manage them properly, so they almost always end up massively over budget, not quite meeting the original specification, and so late that they’re out of date on launch.
The NHS one is a case in point – it was 6 times over budget at the last check. Still, Kevin Barron is all in favour of the system although I’d be interested to see the calculations that show it is a efficient use of money we don’t have, as well as the original forecasts. It’s got to be some system to still be worthwhile despite costing at least 6 times the budget and being funded by money the government is going to have to borrow because it doesn’t have any.
You can hear more about this on File of 4.
File on 4 is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, 2 March 2010, at 2000 GMT, repeated Sunday, 7 March, at 1700 GMT