NHS Trusts have failed to report benefits of National Programme for IT systems leading to incomplete information on the success of the programme, says a report by the National Audit Office.
The benefits report, prepared for the Public Accounts Committee ahead of its meeting on NPFIT this week, says the data submitted from most trusts was varied and lacked sufficient information.
However, some of the national programmes, such as in London and the South, had made direct use of data on reported benefits.
“Other programmes, such as the Electronic Prescription Service and the Picture Archiving and Communications Systems, received only limited information from trusts, and had to extrapolate from the data that was received to generate estimates of total benefits,” it says.
The Department of Health did not compel trusts to provide information.
The report also highlights the Summary Care Records programme, where benefits were only counted once it covered more than 60% of the population.
The NAO report says that with most benefits of NPfIT yet to be realised, and the risk of future benefits relying on the successful deployment of systems, the picture is somewhat inaccurate.
The report excludes all future costs and benefits relating to the programme in the North Midlands and East as well as the DH contract with Fujitsu, which was the LSP in the south until the contract was terminated in 2008.
“When benefit estimates have been revisited in the past, the upshot has often been to shift the timing of the expected benefits further into the future, mainly because of delays in deploying the systems,” it says.
“Reductions in, and delays to, planned deployments are likely to reduce the amount of benefits realised and add to the considerable degree of uncertainty as to whether forecast benefits will be generated as intended.”
The DH Benefits Eligibility Framework recommended that programme teams should have undertaken independent reviews of their benefits estimates. However, the report says that none of the teams did this.
It explains that the DH considered a cross-programme review of benefits as sufficient assurance of the reliability of the reported figures.
The report says that in March 2012, the DH put the total cost of the programme at £7.3 billion. The total benefits at that point were £3.7 billion.
The department estimated that by the end of the programme, the total costs would be £9.8 billion and the benefits £10.7 billion.
Chief Executive of NHS England, Sir David Nicholson, and Tim Donohoe, Senior Responsible Officer for Local Service Provider Programmes, will face questions on NPfIT from the PAC on 12 June.