Press release

Shifting power to the local NHS – a new way for NHS IT

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A profound shift of decision-making to the local NHS means that clinicians lead change in information technology, ensuring its freedom to innovate, the Health Secretary said today at the launch of the Chief Clinical Information Officers network.

Confirming that the government has secured agreement to over a billion pounds reduction in its contract with Computer Sciences Corporation, the largest supplier to the now-dismantled National Programme for IT, the Health Secretary made clear that this money will be released back into the NHS.

Following years of waste and delay in introducing electronic care records to hospitals, he emphasised that this agreement signals an enormous breakthrough that will free up clinicians in the NHS to exercise control and flexibility.

He also made clear that it was intolerable that clinicians who regularly use a smartphone to video chat with colleagues across the world, have to spend weeks waiting for patient information to be sent by post.  The gap in utilising modern technology was to be closed by the leadership of those with their patients in mind, not by central decree from government.

Alongside focusing on clinical involvement to drive change, the Health Secretary reiterated the need for clinical systems across the country to talk to each other, exchanging information safely in the interests of patients.  The NHS Commissioning Board will lead on championing the national standards that are required to underpin local innovation and choice.

Key to future success will be the NHS as a more intelligent customer and small and medium-sized suppliers no longer excluded from introducing their products.  The local NHS is no longer being told what to do when it chooses its IT systems.  Alliances with Intellect, the NHS Confederation and the British Computer Society are helping stimulate a varied, vibrant market of suppliers.  And sharing data about NHS IT implementations with the local NHS via E Health Insider’s website, is ensuring any local investment decision is informed by the experiences of others.

Connecting for Health will no longer exist in April 2013.  A new, leaner delivery organisation will manage existing national applications and services such as the Spine, Choose and Book, digital X-rays, the Electronic Prescription Service, the Summary Care Record and a secure broadband network.  All of these are necessary to how the NHS runs on a daily basis and will continue, but any new national initiatives will only happen when there is a clear need across the NHS.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, said:

“In the past doctors and nurses have had to bend over backwards to fit in with the needs of the systems introduced to their workplaces.  They were shackled with rigid, expensive IT contracts that failed to deliver as intended.  We are now putting local clinicians in the driving seat, able to reap the benefits of the explosion in information and technology which is re-shaping the world beyond the NHS.”


Notes to editors

1)    Copies of the speech are available and should be checked against delivery