Hunt announces £1bn investment in NHS IT

The Department of Health (DH) will provide hospitals with cash to invest in electronic patient records in a £1bn investment scheme announced today by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

By Suzannah.Brecknell

04 Sep 2013

Hospitals will be able to bid for cash from a £500m fund aimed at improving IT systems in the NHS, and winning bidders will be expected to match the government’s contribution, meaning up to £1bn could be invested overall.

Writing on the Conservative Home website, Hunt said: “The appalling condition of much of the current IT infrastructure is not just a huge burden on NHS finances. It threatens patient safety, frustrates staff and is an unnecessary pressure on A&E departments.”

Hospitals will be required to follow common standards in the systems they buy, so that patient records can be more easily shared between hospitals, GPs and other care providers.

Hunt was keen to distance the investment from Labour’s costly IT project, the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), which was run centrally by the DH.

Speaking on ITV1’s Daybreak programme this morning he said that the reason the department would be providing cash for hospitals to invest was “precisely” the failures of the NPfIT.

That project, he said, “got bigger and bigger and bigger and people didn’t buy in, so what we’ve learnt from that is the way you make these projects succeed is you very much have them starting on the coalface with hospitals who have their own IT departments, their own priorities, applying and what we do is set guidelines.”

A spokeswoman for the DH said that funds are being allocated from existing funds in the DH and hospitals’ capital budgets.

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