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September 9, 2010

NHS IT strategy goes local to save £700 million

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by Darren Allan

The Con-Lib coalition has announced that it will be implementing cost-cutting measures when it comes to the ex-government’s NHS IT plans.

Labour wanted to create a national computer infrastructure which would hook up all NHS hospitals across the country. However, it seems that the current government doesn’t feel such a centralised structure is necessary, helpful, or perhaps more to the point, cost efficient in the current climate.

Instead, the powers-that-be will implement what they call a more locally-led system, with a modular approach that will allow NHS organisations to introduce smaller and more manageable changes. The coalition points out that it’s keen to move away from a top-down government overseeing all policy, in favour of going with localised decision making.

The Health Minister, Simon Burns, reckons that these moves will save the taxpayer some £700 million, and that every penny saved will be reinvested in improving patient care. Or cleaning moats, possibly. Or perhaps shoring up another bank’s pungently toxic balance sheet at some point in the future. Anyway, it will be put to good use, rest assured.

Mr Burns commented: “Improving IT is essential to delivering a patient-centred NHS. But the nationally imposed system is neither necessary nor appropriate to deliver this. We will allow hospitals to use and develop the IT they already have and add to their environment either by integrating systems purchased through the existing national contracts or elsewhere.”

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