The government is set to scrap a far-reaching reconfiguration of health services in London, including hospital mergers and closure of A&E units.
The plans, which centred on the creation of ‘polysystems’ and involved hospital mergers and new polyclinics, took some three years to compile and were projected to save £5 billion a year by 2016.
They were designed to create a primary-care led NHS in London with fewer, larger hospitals as envisaged by surgeon and former Labour health minister Lord Darzi.
Reversing the closure and merger plans has far-reaching implications for the National Programme for IT in the NHS in London.
In March, it signed a new deal with BT predicated on the merger programme being carried through – although this looks set to be reviewed by the Treasury as part of its scrutiny of all government spending commitments made since 1 January.
The BBC reports that health secretary Andrew Lansley will order NHS London back to the drawing board.
During the course of the general election campaign, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats both gave commitments to reverse planned closures in London.
Among the A&E departments threatened were those at Kingston Hospital in south London and the Whittington Hospital in Archway, north London. Lansley said he would scrap the plans "within days" of taking power.
According to BBC London Lansley met the head of NHS London on Wednesday and the plans will now be shelved. Lansley told BBC London: "As promised, I am calling a halt to NHS London’s reconfiguration of services."
A report by US management consultants McKinsey for NHS London suggested cutting 6,000 beds, losing 1,200 nurses and 600 GPs and making 6,000 administration staff redundant.
A central plank of the overall strategy was to reorganise hospital services and to replace some with polyclinics.