The chief executive of The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust has said the National Programme for IT in the NHS has "put back the contribution of IT in the NHS by more than ten years."
In a controversial speech at the Health Informatics Congress 2010 in Birmingham, Brian James renamed the programme "NFFPIT – Not Fit for Purpose IT." He also said it had "not only impacted on systems within healthcare but also on the skills of the IT profession to scope and manage projects."
Last year, The Rotherham became one of the first NHS trusts to go outside the national programme for an electronic patient record programme. It rejected iSoft’s Lorenzo system from CSC and instead decided to implement a £40m Meditech v6.0 system from FileTek.
Speaking about the implementation, James said the trust had encountered a serious lack of skills. He said it had taken more than a year to recruit the correct people for the implementation.
He said: "The lack of skills in this area, which has been caused by the delays to NPfIT, has meant that we found it really difficult to find the right people for the project.
“My concern is that as we go forward there is going to be a rush for these systems. Where are the skills going to come from? And how are we going to deliver this agenda, whether that’s through the national programme or whatever comes after it?"
He added that he hoped that trusts were starting to think about the next steps in their IT strategy because “NPfiT may be dead.”
He echoed concerns first raised at E-Health Insider Live last year, when he said trusts were being forced to pay penalties for opting out of the programme.
He said: “What we did was put a good business case together. We showed that by implementing this EPR, we expect to reduce our operating costs by a minimum of 5% – which is £10m pounds per annum. And that’s our downside scenario – the upside is closer to 10%.
"We also managed to get through the hoops around penalties by saying that it is an interim solution – a 15 year interim solution.”
In an interview with EHI after the speech, James said that the Meditech implementation is going well. He said trust has been working for a year to anglicise the product ready for it to go-live in November this year.
"I’d say that we are around four weeks behind where we should be, but we should still go live in November. However, we will take a view on that in the summer, because the quality of the product is key.”
James also said the trust had decided to change its go-live strategy to a two-phase big bang rather than a single one.
"In November we will go-live and switch over 14 systems, then the second phase will happen within three months with an additional 12 systems.”