If IT is not high on the NHS trust chief executives’ agenda this year, it will be next year, Chief Executive of the Institute of Healthcare Management (IHM), Stuart Marples, predicted this week.

Responding to the government’s public spending review last week Mr Marples told E-Health Insider, “IT’s not this year’s trick but it’s certain to be next year’s trick.”

The IHM, which represents 9,000 senior and middle healthcare managers, says the review’s strong commitment to healthcare IT is “undoubtedly necessary”.

”Whilst many might complain that the centre has been too prescriptive on some NHS Plan issues, many would also feel IT is an area for more central prescription, especially perhaps limiting the diversity of systems there are in health economies.

”The danger must be that the track record inside and outside the NHS on big IT systems implementation has not been outstanding thus far,” says the institute.

Mr Marples said that there was an “overwhelming need” for health economies to use compatible IT systems, though the institute had heard of cases where four of five different systems existed in a health economy.

”Of course it may not mean one supplier, but it certainly means compatible systems and a strategy across the health economy,” he added.

Mr Marples, who observed the Wessex region’s much criticised attempt at a big system solution from his earlier position as an NHS chief executive in Dorset, said he was interested to see that big solutions were being considered again. He predicted that the adoption of NHS-wide solutions would depend on how successful projects such as the national personnel and payroll system were.

"I certainly hope they are successful," he said.