Magazine article Public Finance

NAO Was Not Pressured to Produce Positive NHS IT Report, Says Bourn

Magazine article Public Finance

NAO Was Not Pressured to Produce Positive NHS IT Report, Says Bourn

Article excerpt

The National Audit Office has denied accusations that it was unduly pressured by the Department of Health into producing a positive report on its £12.4bn procurement of a national IT programme for the NHS.

NAO head Sir John Bourn, responding to accustions from the Commons Public Accounts Committee that he had been pressured by the DoH into producing 'the most gushing NAO report ever', said: I was not ground down... in fact, the department may feel it was ground down.'

The NAO report, The National Programme for IT in the NHS, reviewed the DoH's procurement of an NHS-wide IT system for digitalising patient records, scans and other clinical information. It found that the department had built' strong value-for-money mechanisms' into its contracts with IT suppliers such as BT, and used the NHS's economies of scale to negotiate 'significant price reductions'.

Because suppliers are not generally paid until their services have been delivered and are working, the NAO praised the DoH for successfully 'transferring financial and delivery risk to its prime suppliers'. Several suppliers were now experiencing financial losses and 'stress', Richard Granger, DoH director general of IT, told the committee, adding 'better they are than the taxpayer'. …

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