Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lansley Backs Views on NHS Cash Waste; Support for Opinions of North Medics

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lansley Backs Views on NHS Cash Waste; Support for Opinions of North Medics

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae

HEALTH Secretary Andrew Lansley has backed North East doctors' views that too much money has been wasted on a failed computer project.

A number of prominent medical professionals in the region have criticised the Government for wasting billions of pounds on a unsuccessful computer project as they believe the money would have been better invested in tackling the region's health inequalities.

The National Programme for IT was launched in 2002 with the central part of the scheme being to create electronic records for every patient. As much as pounds 2.5bn has been lavished on the e-record scheme so far - but MPs said it had proved unworkable.

On a tour of Newcastle's Biomedical Research Centre yesterday to celebrate the Government's pounds 21m investment in the North East for research into dementia and age-related illnesses, Mr Lansley said he too was unhappy with the amount spent of the programme.

He said: "I'm pretty disappointed with how much money has been wasted.

"If you go back to 2002, the previous government said they were going to spend all this money on central IT contracts that were going to deliver targets and timetables - but the delivery didn't happen.

"Indeed, the Public Accounts Committee quite rightly said that while some things have been delivered, the central part of the programme - the electronic patient record system - has not delivered.

"I'm afraid it's not true to say that we can simply cut the budget and stop spending money on IT and spend it on other things. The point, however, is not to imagine that the best and most cost-effective way to do this is from the top down.

"It is actually to equip the NHS with the resources and the ability to be customers."

The Department of Health said it had already reduced overall expenditure on the programme by pounds 1.3bn and was working with the Cabinet Office to ensure maximum value for the taxpayer. In an open letter sent to The Journal, concerns were raised by GPs, consultants, associate medical specialist representatives and junior medical leaders from across the North East. …

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