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Darling to shelve NHS IT programme

Chancellor Alistair Darling has announced his intention to scale back a multi-billion pound NHS IT programme as he looks to slash public spending in the pre-budget report.

The National Programme for IT (NPfIT) has been hampered by delays and heavily criticised by opposition parties after costs for the project skyrocketed to more than £12 billion.

Mr Darling has conceded ahead of the report that the system was not an essential frontline service and would be shelved until a later date.

"The NHS had a quite expensive IT system that, frankly, isn't essential to the frontline," he told the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1.

"It's something that I think we don't need to go ahead with just now."

The system, which would computerise existing medical records in a bid to connect more than 30,000 GPs with up to 300 hospitals, was described by shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley as "another government IT procurement disaster", adding: "it just shows you can't trust Labour on spending efficiency."

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: "This whole programme has been disastrously flawed from the start.

"Labour have been in denial for years and this is a belated and partial recognition of the scale of their failure."

Copyright © Press Association 2009


Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"No. I don't think the programme should be shelved. Projects should be seen through to the end otherwise so many resources are wasted and those involved become totally demoralised" - Jo Read, North West Leics