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NHS IT programme running four years behind schedule

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The original timescales for the electronic Care Records Service, a key element of the NHS National Programme for IT, were ‘unachievable, raised unrealistic expectations and put confidence in the programme at risk’, says a report from the National Audit Office.

It is likely to take until 2014-15 before every trust in England has fully deployed the system, four years later than planned, according to the report published today.

However, the report added that the success of the programme would depend on the commitment of NHS staff. The report cited the government’s latest survey no the programme, conducted in spring 2007, showed that 67% of nurses and 62% of doctors expected the new systems to improve patient care.

Tim Burr, head of the NAO, said: ‘The scale of the challenge involved in delivering the National Programme for IT has proved to be far greater than envisaged at the start, with serious delays in delivering the new care records systems.

Progress is being made, however, and financial savings and other benefits are beginning to emerge. The priority now is to finish developing and deploying care records systems that will help NHS trusts to achieve the programme’s intended benefits of improved services and better patient care,’ he said.

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