Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat MP for Westmoreland & Lonsdale, has stepped up his campaign for an independent review of the costing on the National Programme for IT.

Farron, who earlier last month initiated an early day motion asking for a full, independent investigation of NPfIT’s finances, told Parliament that he believed the level of spending on the programme was causing local services to suffer, including the coronary care unit at the general  hospital in his constituency.

Connecting for the Health was cited to cost £6.2bn, but costs were soaring, claimed the MP.

He asked Andy Burnham, new minister of state for the Department of Health: "Will the minister commit today to a full, independent, technical and financial audit of the project to ensure that public money is spent on the public’s priorities?"

Burnham stressed in his reply that the NHS was getting value for money from its contracts. "In contrast to NHS projects of the past, payment will be made only when the project is delivered. When the project is delivered, it will go further in improving patient care in the NHS."

Farron says he is leading calls for an independent review because some of the projections of NPfIT’s costs are far and away above the local deficits suffered by trusts in his area, and to "ensure that money that could save the NHS is not wasted on an expensive computer system through bad budget management."

Burnham also faced criticism from Andrew Lansley, shadow health minister, for the late running of the electronic health record and electronic transfer of prescriptions. Lansley told Parliament that while the target for the issue of prescriptions was 600,000 per month, in reality only 13,000 were being issued daily so far.

Earlier this month Labour MP for North-West Leicestershire, David Taylor, told the Commons that the government had delivered major improvements in public services. "However, one area where we have, sadly, maintained the record of the previous government is in the acquisition, design, build, implementation and running of major computer systems such as Connecting for Health, which had an original cost estimate of £2.3 billion.

"However, different estimates that have recently been made in the Sunday Times and elsewhere— 23 academics wrote to the Select Committee on Health—suggest a cost of £15 billion or more."

Taylor added that the "overshoot of £12.5 billion would fund the deficits in NHS trusts for the next two decades…"