NHS IT Programme

Part of Opposition Day — [13th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 12:43 pm on 6th June 2007.

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Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Minister (Health) 12:43 pm, 6th June 2007

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making sure that the House is aware of those incidents, which caused concern, most importantly, for the patients themselves at the time. There is a lack of accountability and the lack of an explanation of why those incidents took place.

It is important to ensure that there is no misunderstanding among various Labour Members. To be constructive and to move forward, we must understand how we came to be here. Therefore, let us briefly track back. In 1998 the Government published their own information for health strategy. February 2002 saw the Prime Minister hold

"a seminar in information technology", another great headline-grabbing initiative, but how many clinicians were present at the meeting? Perhaps we shall soon learn, as the outgoing Prime Minister rushes his memoirs to the printers, but do not hold your breath, Mr. Speaker.

April 2002 brought the Wanless report, which recommended that IT funding should be doubled and ring-fenced. By June, the national programme for IT was launched by Ministers with the title "Delivering 21st century IT support for the NHS". The published version of that omitted both the high-risk scoring and the costs estimate included in the draft—then £5 billion, a figure brilliantly unearthed by my hon. Friend Mr. Bacon, whose forensic and relentless work in that area has been, and remains, parliamentary scrutiny of the highest order. I pay tribute to him. Can the Minister tell us why that £5 billion cost estimate was left out of the document? I look forward to the answer.

In December 2005, the problems really began.