The future of the National Programme for IT in the NHS was the big news of 2008.

E-Health Insider’s review of the year opens with calls from opposition politicians for the programme to be reviewed or abandoned and closes with NHS chief executive David Nicholson admitting that it is now at a “pivotal point.”

The months in between were dominated by stories about the national programme’s local service providers and what came to be known as the ‘strategic’ care record systems they are meant to be delivering to the NHS.

In May, Fujitsu departed as the LSP for the South of England. Around the same time, there were major deployments of Cerner’s Millennium care records service London’s LSP, BT, in a programme of roll outs that fleetingly appeared to be gathering traction.

Yet by the autumn, it was clear there were problems with the deployments and further go-lives were suspended. In November, the other strategic system, Lorenzo, finally went live in an acute setting; but it is still working only on one ward at Furness General Hospital.

Page views and comments on the EHI website reveal the same picture. The ten most viewed stories all related to the national programme, with the story about Fujitsu’s contract being terminated leading the list with more than 20,329 unique page views.

Seven of the ten most commented stories were also about the programme, with Fujitsu’s exit again leading the list with more than 60 comments. However, the most commented stories do reveal some other concerns.

In a year that saw the consent model for the NHS Summary Care Record changed and plans to roll it out more widely published in the NHS’s ‘must do’ list, the rights or wrongs of extending access to the NHS Care Records Service was briskly debated.

And in a year that saw tougher legal penalties introduced for the reckless or wilful breach of the Data Protection Act, the rights and wrongs of sacking individuals for losing laptops and other devices containing sensitive data generated considerable heat.

The importance of the programme and security were also reflected in a new feature on the EHI site, the reader poll. More than 1,200 people voted on whether the soft launch of Lorenzo at Morecambe Bay was worth celebrating, with those who thought it was winning the day by around 150 votes.

What will be the big news stories of 2009? Look out for our look ahead to 2009, based on interviews with some of the key figures in NHS IT.

Top five stories (most viewed):

28 May 2008: Fujitsu’s £896m NHS IT contract to be terminated

28 May 2008: Worthing says Cerner’s functionality ‘inferior’

6 November 2008: Soft launch of Lorenzo at Morecambe Bay

8 January 2008: CSC fined £5m for late delivery of PAS systems

29 July 2008: Milton Keynes’ CRS caused ‘near melt down’

Five most commented stories:

28 May 2008: Fujitsu’s £896m NHS IT contract to be terminated

3 July 2008: Access to NHS care records may be widened

6 February 2008: NHSmail users have mailbox shrunk

6 November 2008:Soft launch of Lorenzo at Morecambe Bay

2 July 2008: NHS manager suspended after losing laptop

Top three reader polls:

Is the soft launch of Lorenzo at Morecambe Bay worth celebrating?

Yes: 692 No: 556

Is NPfIT grinding to a halt?

Yes: 389 No: 333

Should people be sacked for losing laptops holding unencrypted data?

Yes: 289 No: 230

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