One of EHI’s big themes in 2009 was the impending financial crunch on the NHS. Yet the real impact of the need to make £20 billion efficiency savings was not felt in 2010.
Instead, the health service had something of a lull before services start being ‘rationalised’ with the end of the current settlement with the Treasury next year.
Into that lull, of course, 2010 brought a general election, followed by a new government, and then a white paper with the prospect of a massive reorganisation of both commissioners and providers.
Patients were promised an ‘information revolution’; but this is another promise that has yet to be fulfilled, with a consultation on a new information strategy running until the New Year.
2010 was also a quiet year punctuated by blips of excitement for the National Programme for IT in the NHS. In the North, Midlands and East, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust failed to go-live with Lorenzo in March, went live in the summer, and spent the rest of the autumn working on a stabilisation plan.
In London, St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust went live with Cerner Millennium with fewer problems; but was the only trust to do so (although Imperial says it will go in 2011). Everybody involved in the ASCC procurements in the South insisted they were still happening; but there were few signs of this being the case.
Meantime, Simon Burns, the latest health minister to find himself in charge of NHS IT, announced the effective end of the programme in September. The programme’s projects will become NHS services, while the future of procurement and deployment is local and modular.
On the other hand, the programme’s big contracts will be “honoured.” Although there is increasing concern about the value for money of the contracts as they now stand.
As the year closed, the National Audit Office announced that it will look at BT’s deal for the South, and MP Richard Bacon called for action before a new deal with CSC is signed for the NME.
Unsurprisingly, the story about the effective end of NPfIT was the most read story on EHI in 2010, with well over 10,000 unique readers, while a piece flagging the decision that was likely to be made was second most read.
Stories about Morecambe Bay missing its Lorenzo deadline, going live with Release 1.9 and then facing problems with the system were all in the top ten most read and commented.
But the stories that really got readers commenting were the end of Microsoft’s Enterprise-wide Agreement with the NHS for server and office software – which generated 40 comments – and NHS Connecting for Health’s attempts to encourage trusts to use NHSmail.
Plus, the saga of the British Medical Association’s on-off support for the NHS Summary Care Record; stories about which regularly attracted more than 20 comments from a readership increasingly pro- or anti-GP stance.