The chair of Intellect’s Health Group, Jeremy Nettle, has told E-Health Insider that he expects increased investment in health IT in response to the £20 billion of efficiency savings that need to be made by the NHS.
Speaking in an EHI TV interview, Nettle said that he did not believe that the NHS would be immune from spending cuts as the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition initially promised and that many IT directors are likely to see their budget slashed.
However, he added: “I know that when I spoke about this before, people didn’t believe that I was saying that there would be an increase in spending on IT. But there has to be increased spending this year although it will take a very strong chief executive that makes that decision.”
Last year, a survey carried out by EHI revealed that four out of ten NHS IT staff were expecting their budgets to decrease and a further 36% expect them to be frozen at this year’s level.
Nettle added: “I bravely say that there will be an increase, probably not initially as I think they’ll be a procurement blight for at least six to nine months, but there will be a time when trusts have to make the savings.”
Nettle, who also heads up Oracle’s health sciences division, urged trusts not to look for IT “quick fixes,” which he warned many are already doing.
He said: “If you look at quite a lot of procurements coming through at the moment they are very much quick fixes to satisfy the immediate or not knowing where the cuts are coming in the next year or two.
“You will see quick fixes, you’ll see people trying to get under the covers fast and get solutions in.
"In the short term, it isn’t going to be successful due to the massive changes that we will see over the next three to five years. Any IT infrastructure is going to need to support organisational change.”
Nettle also said that this is a “great time for suppliers” and that the health IT market is likely to open up and that more agile systems will be need as opposed to the big local service provider contracts under the National Programme for IT in the NHS.
He said that supplier should be getting close to customers, showing them what they can achieve and helping them with their business cases which will be “scrutinised like never before.”
He added: “If you are in consultancy, you’re a small organisation or even a big organisation, this really is your rich pickings.”