National Audit Office criticises NHS IT programme for lack of staff buy-in

The NHS’s £6.2bn IT overhaul – the world’s biggest public sector IT programme – has failed to win the hearts and minds of those who are required to use the new systems, the public spending watchdog will warn this summer.


In its long-awaited report on the NHS’s national programme for IT, the National Audit Office will say the lack of staff buy-in could mean that clinicians do not gain the full benefits of new hardware and software.


The report will also point out that parts of the NHS are having to pay for systems that are not always wanted, reveals Personnel Today’s sister title Computer Weekly.


Some NHS staff wanted to install their own choice of systems, built to national standards, but have had to use hardware and software that has been chosen centrally.


The criticisms in the report will conflict with a recent ministerial statement, which gave the impression that all was well with the programme.


Last month, the health minister Liam Byrne praised the progress of the IT programme. In response to a question about the scheme by the shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley, Byrne said that it had delivered new systems to thousands of locations in the NHS. “Progress is within budget, ahead of schedule in some areas and, in the context of a 10-year programme, broadly on track in others.”


Although most doctors support the aims of the IT roll-out, Byrne’s positive comments on the programme made no reference to the results of surveys by independent companies such as Mori and Medix, which have raised doubts about whether clinicians will make use of new systems.

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