NHS: It

Health written question – answered on 5th March 2007.

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Photo of Roger Godsiff Roger Godsiff Labour, Birmingham, Sparkbrook and Small Heath

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the overall cost to NHS trusts of upgrading older versions of the software for the Connecting for Health IT System.

Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Minister of State (Department of Health) (Public Health)

Information about local national health service spending by primary care trusts, NHS trusts and other NHS organisations on the national programme for information technology, to complement the investment from central funding, is not collected centrally. NHS organisations have always been responsible for paying for and maintaining their existing information systems, and funding for this is built into general allocations.

What we do know is that any costs associated with implementation of the national programme locally are very significantly outweighed by the savings accrued from participation in the programme. Most notably, some £4.5 billion has been saved by central rather than local procurement, a figure confirmed by independent industry analysts. In addition, savings have been achieved in the prices paid by the NHS for information technology goods and services due to the central buying power of NHS Connecting for Health, as well as in NHS staff time saved through using the programme's systems and services. For example, the National Audit Office has acknowledged savings of £860 million achieved through centrally negotiated enterprise wide arrangements.

In addition, primary care trusts (PCTs) have been specifically reimbursed for funds spent on upgrading existing general practitioner practice systems to make them "choose and book compliant", and funding support has also been made available to support NHS trusts deploying a choose and book compliant patient administration system.

The commercial and organisational models employed in delivering the national programme continue to produce exceptional value for the taxpayer by avoiding multiple procurements and significantly reducing unit costs for applications and systems.

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