By Tony Collins
The cost to taxpayers of systems under the National Programme for IT may be up to three times the market price, says Richard Bacon, a Conservative MP on the Public Accounts Committee.
While NPfIT was supposed to deliver complex but standardised systems at an affordable price, hospitals are spending much more with suppliers BT and CSC than by buying elsewhere, says Bacon.
“It is clear from the Department of Health’s latest answers to me that the true cost of IT systems bought under the National Programme are far higher than those of systems bought outside the Programme, quite apart from the repeated delays and quality issues that have plagued the Programme from the beginning.
“If we are to have a genuinely open market for NHS IT systems, which is quite rightly the Government’s intention, then we must have absolute openness about their true costs. Trusts must understand, discuss and record these costs before making any future procurement decisions.
“And the Department of Health must not tie itself to buying a minimum number of systems from CSC in any new Memorandum of Understanding with the company.
“Effective, affordable and robust IT systems are vital to the future of the NHS. We must make a clean break with the fiasco that is the National Programme if the needs of patients and clinicians and the interests of taxpayers are to be protected,” says Bacon.