The Department of Health says it did not mislead the Public Accounts Committee about the publication of the final benefits statement on the National Programme for IT.
Earlier this month, EHI reported that the DH released its final report on the benefits of NPfIT on 6 June, but failed to mention it during a PAC meeting discussing the benefits a week later.
At the meeting, PAC chair Margaret Hodge asked Tim Donohoe, the senior responsible owner for the local service provider programmes at the DH, when the benefits statement would be made public, to which he answered:
“We are working through to validate because we do not want to put in the public domain information that is incorrect. I think that we are probably three months away from being able to publish.”
When Hodge asked Donohoe if he could present a figure for the benefits to March 2012, he simply said “no”.
However a spokesperson from the DH told EHI that the ‘probably three months away’ comment was referring to publishing updated and more current benefits information up to the end of March 2013.
“It was not referring to the publication of the final benefits statement itself as this had already been published,” said the spokesperson.
An updated statement is therefore due out this month.
The original benefits statement was a response to a request by the PAC in August 2011.
A spokesperson for the PAC told EHI that the committee has accepted the clarification from the DH.
MP and PAC member, Richard Bacon, told EHI earlier this month that publishing the report on the quiet was just as expected from the DH.
“Throughout the programme they were always ready to say things were doing better than they were. But it does seem to be taking it to another level to quietly put out this report and then talk about it as if it hasn’t been published,” he said.
The report says the total expected cost of the programme is £9.8 billion. The DH has predicted that £10.7 billion in benefits could be realised in total.
However, only £3.7 billion of actual benefits had been identified by March 2012.