Services such as electronic prescriptions will remain unaffected by budget cuts
The Government has scrapped plans to set up a national database of electronic patient records for the NHS, but some areas of the service's national IT programme will be retained.
Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, recently announced the Government is axing much of the £12.7bn scheme that was meant to link all parts of the NHS, but some areas are considered to be working well. These include the Choose and Book process for hospital referrals, patient archiving and electronic prescriptions will continue to be supported.
"There is no point throwing the baby out with the bathwater," a representative for the Department of Health said.
The national Programme for IT was set up by Labour in 2002 to save money and time. As the Cabinet Office's Major Projects Authority has pointed out, the ambitious IT project was not a single programme but "a portfolio of major programmes with interdependencies, different timescales and varied contributions to benefits delivery".
The core part of the project was the creation of a fully integrated, national electronic patient care records database. This would have allowed NHS practitioners to get instant access to patient notes, appointments and histories.
However, this fell behind schedule and of the total £6.4bn allocated to the programme in March of this year, £2.7bn has been spent on the electronic records system. But this part of the project has been widely criticised. In May, the National Audit Office said that delivery of care records systems, "continues to fall well below expectations."
Now the Cabinet Office majority projects authority has concluded in a report that the majority of the programme is "unwieldy" and has not "delivered in line with the original intent ..." and should be scrapped.
It sugggested "dismember[ing] the programme and reconstitute[ing] it under new management and organisation arrangements", otherwise it would be " hard to see how the perception can ever be shifted from the faults of the past and allowed to progress effectively to support the delivery of effective healthcare."
But it has also said that the overall impression that the National project has delivered no benefits is unfair.
"In fact, there have been substantial achievements which are now firmly established. The Spine, N3 Network, NHSmail, Choose and Book, Secondary Uses Service and Picture Archiving and Communications Service are all business as usual and form essential infrastructure," it said.
Lansley said last week: "We will be moving to an innovative new system driven by local decision-making. This is the only way to make sure we get value for money from IT systems that better meet the needs of a modernised NHS."
Updating your subscription status