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£700m in NHS IT cuts announced

The Department of Health has taken measures to slash £700m from the National Programme for IT and England. The announcement comes in addition to moves by the previous government to cut £600m from the budget, meaning it has now been reduced from £12.7bn to £11.4bn.

The moves were taken following a review which concluded that the current centralised, national approach should be replaced by “a more locally-led plural system of procurement, whilst continuing with national applications already procured”.

Director general for informatics, Christine Connelly, said: “It is clear that the National Programme for IT has delivered important changes for the NHS, including an infrastructure which the NHS today depends on for providing safe and responsive health care.

“Now the NHS is changing, we need to change the way IT supports those changes, bringing decisions closer to the front line and ensuring that change is manageable and holds less risk for NHS organisations.”

Health minister Simon Burns added: “Improving IT is essential to delivering a patient-centred NHS, but the nationally imposed system is neither necessary nor appropriate to deliver this. We will allow hospitals to use and develop the IT they already have and add to their environment, either by integrating systems purchased through the existing national contracts or elsewhere.

“This makes practical sense. It also makes financial sense. Moving IT systems closer to the frontline will release £700m extra in savings. Every penny saved through productivity gains will be reinvested to improve patient care.”