Simon Burns Simon Burns, minister of state for health

The National Programme for IT in the NHS is set to end in its current form, a ministerial statement will announce this morning.

A further £700m will also be cut from the cost of the programme, with £500m coming from ‘local savings’ and £200m from the local service provider contract with CSC.

E-Health Insider expects the ministerial statement to be made at around 10.30am.

Christine Connelly, the director general of NHS IT, will simultaneously brief staff at the Leeds offices of NHS Connecting for Health.

This suggests that a substantial number are likely to lose their jobs or see them change significantly.

However, the statement will say that the national infrastructure elements of the national programme will be retained, with oversight of programmes such as Choose and Book shifting to "new arrangements" by 2012.

An announcement on the future of the national programme has been expected since the launch of the government’s white paper, ‘Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS’ in June.

At the launch, NHS chief executive David Nicholson told journalists that a statement would be made within four weeks.

The paper itself indicated that NHS organisations would be able to choose from “a more plural system of IT and other suppliers”, in line with Conservative policy before the general election.

EHI has been told that this morning’s statement will say that the programme’s national approach is “no longer appropriate” and that it will be “reconfigured” to “reflect the approach set out in the white paper.”

The national programme started in 2002. It had four main aims; to roll out a new national broadband infrastructure for the NHS and to create electronic booking, prescribing and records systems.

Multi-million pound contracts were awarded to national and local service providers in 2003 and 2004.

The programme has always been subject to intense criticism that has been focused on the increasingly late-running attempts of LSPs to get detailed care records into trusts.

In the run up to the election, the Conservatives endorsed the findings of an independent review of NPfIT that called for the five-year old project to be radically rewritten and the LSP contracts to be “halted and re-negotiated.”

However, the white paper backed Choose and Book and the government has shown no sign of scrapping the Summary Care Record, although it is reviewing its content and consent model.

Following today’s announcement, the total value of the programme will be cut to £11.4 billion.

The last Budget by the Labour government cut £600m from the programme, with BT’s commitments to deliver Cerner Millennium to acute trusts in London severely curtailed. MP Richard Bacon is calling for a review of the deal.

CSC also agreed to limit the scope of the iSoft Lorenzo electronic patient record it is due to deliver to the North, Midlands and East of England.

It has been locked in talks with the government about the future of its contract since the belated go-live of Lorenzo at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust in June.

Trusts in the South have been waiting to see whether they will receive funding to receive systems of choice through the Additional Supply Capability and Capacity framework.

Simon Burns will be speaking at EHI Live 2010, the essential two day conference and exhibition for anyone in the e-health community.

Online registration for the event, which will be held at the NEC in Birmingham from 8-9 November, is now open.