Local and central IM&T spend as a percentage of NHS revenue will decrease next year for the first time in seven years, according to the NHS IM&T Investment Survey.
The survey, published by NHS Connecting for Health, shows planned local spend in 2009-10 will decrease by 0.09% as a percentage of NHS revenue in comparison with actual spend last year.
Although the decline is small, it is in line with other indications that NHS IT budgets are coming under pressure as the health service prepares for the end of the present comprehensive spending review period in 2011.
Four in ten E-Health Insider readers told a recent reader survey that they expected their budgets to be cut next year, with more saying they would be frozen.
However, the NHS IM&T Investment Survey results have to be treated with some caution, because many foundation trusts are no longer submitting returns.
Although 81% of trusts participated in the survey in September, 78 foundation trusts, predominately from London, refused to do so, up from 58 the previous year.
The survey information pack recommends that that the survey should be discontinued and that “survey materials and tools are handed over to strategic health authorities.”
The figures that are availble from the survey show that last year local IM&T spend totalled £1.693 billion, which was 2.07% of NHS revenue.
The planned local spend for IM&T for 2009-10 is projected to reach £1.742 billion. However, as a percentage of NHS revenue this is 1.97%.
The survey also reveals that central IM&T spend has hit £1 billion for the first time. It has increased from £970,338 last year to a planned £1.083 billion in 2009-10.
Again, however, the percentage of local and central IM&T spend combined has dropped from 3.21% to 3.15% of NHS revenue year on year.
Other findings show there has been a significant increase in the amount of staff participating in the delivery of IM&T services, from 16,597 last year to 17,586 this year.