The NHS in England has invested an estimated £336m capital spend on local IM&T projects in 2006/07, an increase of almost 40% on the previous year, according to figures from the NHS Information Management and Technology (IM&T) Investment Survey 2006.

Combined with the £390m capital spend by the Department of Health central through its agency NHS Connecting for Health, the English health service had a total capital spend of £726m in 2006/2007.

Revenue spend (spending on day-to-day items to run services, such as staffing, supplies and purchase of services) has also increased, but less dramatically than capital spend (spending on significant assets that will have a life of many years e.g. system deployments and software licenses).

In total over £1.2bn was spent by NHS trusts in 2006/07 on local revenue spend, just 1.77% of the NHS’s total revenue costs, and an increase of just £80,000 from 2005/06.

In total, Connecting for Health estimate that just over £1bn has been spent using capital funds and £5.8m has been spent using revenue funds, in 2006/07.

The survey, which was sent to every strategic health authority, primary care trust, NHS trusts and foundation trust, received a 94.5% response rate.  

In addition to showing the large increase in local capital spend, the figures also reveal that Connecting for Health has increased expenditure on central IT investment from almost £390m in 2005/06 to an estimated £725m this year- double the amount spent on local IT.

In a detailed breakdown of results, all 10 strategic health authorities in the country said they were able to offer trusts more funding for IT in 2006/07. In Yorkshire, East Midlands and the South West, trusts were promised an increase of over 20% in capital funds last year from their SHAs.

In total, IT investment accounts for 38.39% of the NHS capital budget for 2006/07. This amounts to a 15% increase from the 2005/06 spend.

Despite the large increases in capital spend and more modest increases in revenue, NHS IT total spend continues to lag behind the bullish heights advocated in the Wanless Review of 2002. The NHS in England is forecast to spend 2.58% of its total £70.1bn budget on IT in 2006/07.  This figure has risen steadily from 2% in 2002/03, but not leapt to the 4% Wanless proposed.

Connecting for Health say that 200 NHS sites have systems upgraded every month under the National Programme for IT and there are 1,700 visits to sites to plan deployments every month.

The 2007 NHS IM&T Investment Survey has now been distributed to SHA directors of finance. Connecting for Health say that actual 2006/07 figures will be confirmed when the results of the 2007 survey have been analysed.

A CfH spokesperson said: “The 2007 survey is the sixth national survey on IT investment within the NHS and the information collected has established a useful shared resource for local and national implementation planning and monitoring. Participation has always been high and 95% of NHS organisations took part in 2006.

“The survey collects detailed information on how local IT budgets are spent on staff, services and equipment. This year’s exercise will cover both revenue and capital IT expenditure and will capture actual spend for the 2006-07 financial year and estimated spend for 2007-08. A fundamental review of the survey, which will run in parallel with the 2007 data collection exercise, will consider the continuing need and future options for the survey and how it can be more closely aligned with the wider NHS IM&T planning processes and associated data collections.”

The deadline for SHAs to respond to the survey is Friday 28 September 2007. Full results and analysis from the 2007 survey are expected to be published in December.


NHS IM&T Investment Survey 2006