The government spent more that £12billion on IT across the public sector in 2005/06, with the NHS and Connecting for Health amongst the biggest investors, according to figures published in the Transformational Government annual report for 2006.
The figures show that the NHS in England spent £1.4billion, which did not include the £1.1bn spent by Connecting for Health (CfH). Spending on NHS IT in Scotland and Wales is included in overall figures for devolved government responsibilities in those countries. Scotland spent £600m in total and Wales £165m.
Local government invested over £3bn on new IT systems and the Department of Work and Pensions spent £1.143m – slightly more than CfH – on systems to make more than 13m benefit payments electronic.
The report is the first annual update on the progress of the six year Transformational Government strategy which spans all government departments and local councils.
In his foreword, government chief information officer, John Suffolk, writes: “We are the beginning of the Transformational Government strategy and that we have more to do – more to do on using ICT to improve public services; more to do on improving the value we create from the investment we make; and more to do on improving the success rate of our business change programmes.”
The report outlines progress on the strategy’s three main themes: customer-centric services, shared services and professionalism.
It cites the roll-out of picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) in the health service as one of the successes along with NHS Shared Business Service.
The report says: “The NHS Shared Business Service has saved 108 trusts an average of 34% of the cost of processing finance transaction through shared financial services. It is on track to deliver savings of more than £220m over 10 years.”
It adds that the NHS is on course to start sharing human resource service too covering 1.2m – potentially the largest shared services implementation in the world.
The chapter on health records Connecting for Health’s successes in rolling out PACS and N3, the new NHS network and charts progress in areas such as electronic booking and the Electronic Prescriptions Service.
Of the NHS Care Record Service, it says: “There have been delays to the clinical record system due to the complexity of developing software that interacts with a large number of existing systems and also due to the need to get doctors to agree on the contents of electronic health records. The cost of these delays is being met by ICT suppliers, not the taxpayer.
“Operating in this environment and on this scale inevitably presents challenges that the programme has overcome through innovation.”
The report lists the challenges as including: positive engagement of clinicians; the capacity and capability of suppliers and the NHS; delivering such a major programme at a time of great structural and business change for the NHS and positively engaging all stakeholders to ensure all concerns and criticisms are addressed.