National Programme for Information Technology
Stephen O'Brien (Shadow Minister, Health; Eddisbury, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Health in what way and for what reasons (a) Northumbria Healthcare, (b) Norfolk and Norwich NHS Trust, (c) Dudley NHS Trust and (d) South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust have dispensed with the NHS IT system; how much it has cost them to do so; and what her estimate is of the impact on the NHS IT programme of their actions.
Caroline Flint (Minister of State (Public Health), Department of Health; Don Valley, Labour)
None of the national health service trusts referred to has dispensed with the national programme for information technology (IT). All remain committed to the programme and its objectives, and to realising the benefits it is already bringing, and will continue to bring to NHS patients and staff.
We have always said that the programme will make maximum use of existing systems when deciding local implementation priorities. We are adopting an incremental approach to replacing existing systems, and this strategy ensures that best use is made of the existing asset base. There is scope within deployment plans in each cluster for existing systems to be replaced in either the shorter or the longer term depending on the circumstances of NHS trusts and primary care trusts locally. It makes no sense to replace prematurely systems with appropriate functionality that are delivering demonstrable benefit to patients and staff when other NHS organisations have systems that are in urgent need of replacement.
This approach to local deployment lies behind decisions made by the Northumbria Healthcare NHS trust, the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS trust, and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS trust to defer migration to the patient administration system supplied by the local service provider (LSP). The approach is set out in programme-wide implementation guidance. The guidance which is aimed at providing structured and consistent mechanisms, and describing the critical tasks necessary to maximise benefits from the changes being enabled by the national programme, is published on the Department's NHS Connecting for Health agency's website at: www.connectingforhealth.nhs.uk/implementation The circumstances of the South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust are slightly different.
The trust was established in April 2002 from three separate organisations, and inherited nine different clinical information systems. Due to the complexity of the current systems and the need to consolidate them it is not currently possible for the Trust to be an early development site for the national programme. The trust board has taken a decision to procure an interim clinical information system which will put it in a stronger position to transfer data onto the LSP-delivered system as soon as this becomes available.
NHS organisations that retain use of their existing systems typically incur annual maintenance costs, which are paid locally. These costs are saved following migration to solutions provided under the national programme. Information is not collected centrally about the amounts in each case. However, in the case of the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS trust, all IT services and applications were included in the trust's overall public finance initiative contract, and no separate IT maintenance costs are payable.