The Southern Programme for IT will cost nearly £1 billion by the end of the programme, but had reaped just £26m in benefits by March last year.

The Department of Health is forecasting benefits of £600m by the end of the programme’s life despite very low benefits realisation so far and no further deployments.

An SPfIT Statement of Progress 2012 has been released to EHI under the Freedom of Information Act by the National Audit Office, which used it for a recent note for the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee.

SPfIT is the southern arm of the National Programme for IT. It involved the deployment of electronic patient record system Cerner Millennium to 10 acute trusts and 25 instances of CSE’s RiO to 19 mental health and community trusts. Also, the delivery of Map of Medicine.

The original contract for the South was held by Fujitsu, which exited the programme in 2008. The contract was later taken over by BT.

The statement of progress says the forecast cost to the taxpayer until the end of life of the southern programme is around £960m at 2004-2005 prices, including £683 in contract costs.

The actual benefits reported in the 2010-2011 financial year were just £8.8m and estimated as £13.3m by the programme’s end.

However, the updated 2012 statement estimates total benefits of £500m by the end of the contract and £600m by the end of the life of the programme, in 2004-2005 prices. Contracts in the South end in October 2015, but the documents do not specify when the ‘end of life’ of the programme is.

A separate South Benefits Analysis 2011-2012 report, also released under FOI, says the strategic health authority benefits leads “worked rigorously with trusts” to identify Cerner, RiO and Map of Medicine benefits.

This resulted in a final figure of £13.7m benefit for the 2010-2011 financial year.

“The South LSP contract runs to October 2015, giving 3.5 years for delivery of future benefits,” the analysis says.

“A model for these has been developed in conjunction with London, but taking into account the fact that the south contract does not allow for future enhancement of functionality (and hence increase in benefit) unlike the London contract.”

The future benefits for Cerner Millennium with the current version of functionality is estimated as around £6m a year for the patient administration system and order communications and £1.3m per trust saved on no longer paying for procurements.

Together these give a projected Cerner benefit of £263m from April 2012 to contract end, it says.

Future benefits for 19 community and mental health trusts running RiO between April 2012 and October 2015 are estimated at around £300m.

“Altogether we are projecting a benefit of £574m at current prices from April 2013 to contract termination for the Southern Programme for IT,” the analysis document says.

This figure has not been adjusted to 2004-2005 prices.

The analysis says the benefits model has been developed in conjunction with London, however a separate LPfIT benefits report says the figure of nearly £8m in benefits per trust a year is regarded as “high” and London is aiming for an “achievable value” of £1m per trust per year.

Previous figures released by the National Audit office put the average cost of a Cerner implementation in the South under BT at £28.3m

MP Richard Bacon has claimed that a RiO site in the South cost £9m to deploy.

However, the NAO documents suggest the actual costs are much higher.

Another £140m is yet to be spent on BT’s contract for the SPfIT.

EHI has received detailed reports on the costs and benefits of NPfIT from the National Audit Office. We will be running a series analysing the released information called ‘The NAO Files’ over coming weeks.