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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 23:48 GMT 00:48 UK
Concern over NHS IT 'glitches'
Image of a computer
The IT upgrade is taking 10 years to complete
Fresh concerns have been raised about the 6.8bn NHS IT upgrade after it emerged there had been 110 major glitches in the last four months.

Many of the incidents relate to viewing digitalised x-rays and software for organising patient appointments, the magazine Computer Weekly reported.

NHS Connecting for Health, the agency responsible for the project, said the glitches were "unfortunate".

But it added they were normal for such a big organisation like the NHS.

This is the latest evidence that there are serious and growing problems with the whole national programme for IT in the health service
Richard Bacon, Tory MP

Computer Weekly said the x-ray system problems could have led to doctors having to visit radiology departments and join queues to obtain printed versions, which could have delayed diagnosis.

The failures were just the latest setback for the project, which aims to link more than 30,000 GPs to 300 hospitals by 2014.

The programme involves an online booking system, centralised medical records system for 50 million patients and electronic prescriptions.

The online booking system, Choose and Book, is already a year behind schedule = and the electronic records system is at least two years behind.

Conservative MP Richard Bacon, a member of the public accounts committee, said the government needed to reconsider the scheme.

"This is the latest evidence that there are serious and growing problems with the whole national programme for IT in the health service.

Wasted

"In many respects the NHS IT programme is making things worse not better, while sowing distrust and disillusionment across the health service.

"The tragedy is that if the NHS continues on its present course, a huge amount of money will be spent and much of it will be wasted."

A Connecting for Health spokesman said what constituted a "major" incident was open to interpretation, and often problems were reported when systems were simply running slowly.

He insisted the body was "open and transparent" about performance, and information on service levels was regularly published on its website.

"Connecting for Health is operating systems 24 hours a day, seven days a week in hundreds of locations across England.

"In that context, what is being quoted represents a very small service interruption and we expect performance to compare favourably with any large-scale organisation that uses IT - especially in the first year of operations."


SEE ALSO
NHS report 'criticisms deleted'
18 Aug 06 |  Health
Q&A: NHS IT upgrade
15 Jun 06 |  Health
GPs dissatisfied with IT system
30 May 06 |  Health

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