No budget for the NHS National Programme for IT has yet been agreed after the end of March, now less than three months away.

By the end of March the programme will have spent in excess of £6 billion, almost the whole of the original £8.14 billion budget. But no budget for the years after 2009-10 is yet in place, despite elements of the programme running up to five years late into 2014-15.

Negotiations between the Department of Health and the Treasury are currently underway to identify where the £500-600m of NPfIT cuts identified in December’s pre-Budget report will be made. The DH is also in urgent discussions with suppliers on how savings will be delivered.

In December the Chancellor said he thought the NHS IT project was expensive”, “not essential for the frontline” or “something we need to go ahead with just now” strongly suggesting it should be subject to deep cuts, or scrapped entirely.

Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham said £600m would be saved from the £12.7 billion NPfIT programme, which he reported had spent £4.5 billion by the end of the last NHS financial year. Asked how much of the total budget had been spent he “40-50% has been paid out so far.”

In a written response to a parliamentary question health minister Mike O’Brien confirmed discussions with the Treasury on NPfIT continue.

“As part of the current government-wide drive to find efficiency savings and better value for money on major projects, officials are holding ongoing discussions with the Treasury, and with suppliers, about how these might be generated in relation to the national programme.”

O’Brien gave figures on capital and revenue expenditure to date by the programme. These show that the total spent by the NHS National Programme for IT since 2004 had reached £4.96 billion, and is projected to reach £6.1 billion by the end of March.

This was beneath the initially budgeted expenditure for the programme, for the five years beginning 2005-06, a year later than the six years figures for actual reported expenditure, which projected total expenditure at £8.14 billion by the end of 2009-10.

However, no figures have been agreed by the Treasury on NPfIT expenditure beyond the end of March, less than three months away.

Mike O’Brien said: “Expenditure plans for the years beyond 200910 are currently being reviewed in light of the announcements made in the pre-Budget reports, and of evolving IT needs of the NHS.

He said that comprehensive figures for the total expenditure of the national programme for information technology was not available, as they included both central and local costs incurred by trusts for training and upgrading hardware.

“Local information is not routinely collected in a way that differentiates expenditure on the IT programme from other local IT-related expenditure.”

NPfIT Initial Budget
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