The National Audit Office (NAO) has confirmed that it plans to carry out a second study of the late-running £12bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT). No date has yet been set for this new study to be carried out.

The NAO said in June that it “may return to carry out a further examination at a later date if this becomes necessary".

An NAO spokesperson told E-Health Insider: “The situation is that we will track developments and then when we feel we can become usefully involved we will look at the programme again”. They added that multiple reports had been carried out on major projects such as the Channel Tunnel.

According to a report in magazine Computer Weekly a decision has been taken to carry out a second report on the NHS National Programme for IT. The NAO however declined to confirm this.

An NAO spokesperson told EHI said that work was not yet underway but they were “considering the most appropriate timescale to do something.”

On 16 June the NAO published an initial review of the NPfIT, almost a year later than originally planned. The report praised the procurement approach and programme management, despite concluding that total costs had risen to approximately £12bn and that the core electronic patient records systems were running two years late.

Since the report was published the NAO has, under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, released earlier drafts of the report. The drafts show that many criticisms of the programme and CfH were removed or watered down by the time the final report was published.

“We’re subject to the Freedom of Information Act,” said the spokesperson. The NAO has previously released drafts of a series of other reports.

Since the report was published in June key information has been made public that may well have had a significant impact on the report. Most significant has been a joint CSC/Acenture review of iSoft’s software engineering and development of its strategic Lorenzo product. This identified endemic weaknesses and concluded there are “no believable plans” for future releases.

Other key developments have included the anticipated change of software supplier in London, the strong suggestion that Accenture may be wholly or partly replaced as local service provider in two clusters, £382m losses posted by iSoft and the continuing delays to the programme.

As exclusively reported by EHI on 1 September only a third of the 22 acute trusts scheduled to receive new systems from their local service providers by October now believe the target will be met.

Computer Weekly quotes Greg Clark MP, a member of the Commons Public Accounts Committee as saying that in light of recent developments the NAO report published in June “raises more questions than it answers”. He says his committee will hold a new hearing on NPfIT, based on a new NAO report. He predicts this will happen next year.

“We are not yet at a stage of working on a report. We are monitoring developments,” the NAO spokesperson said.