The National Audit Office has reported the results of its review of a statement by the Department of Health of costs and benefits of the programmes previously managed under the National Programme for IT in the NHS.
The NAO report, published as a memorandum for the Committee of Public Accounts, finds the Department took a structured, logical approach to measuring and reporting costs and benefits. The Department forecasts that benefits will slightly exceed costs over the whole life of the systems, £10.7 billion compared with £9.8 billion.
There is, however, very considerable uncertainty around whether the forecast benefits will be realised. Around two-thirds (£6.6 billion) of the total estimated benefits are forecast to arise after March 2012. For three programmes, 98 per cent of the total estimated benefits were still to be realised. Some £2.5 billion (26 per cent) of the total costs are also forecast to arise after March 2012.
There is a range of risks to the realisation of future benefits. In particular, for some programmes, future benefits rely on the successful deployment of a set number of systems at a set time. Experience over the last ten years suggests this will be challenging to achieve, particularly in the case of the local care records systems.
Notes for Editors
The National Programme for IT in the NHS was designed to reform the way that the NHS in England uses information. In September 2011, the Government announced that the National Programme would be dismantled into its separate component parts. That process has now taken place.
In its 2011 report on the National Programme for IT, the Committee of Public Accounts asked the Department to provide an updated statement of benefits. In July 2012, the Department provided the Committee with a draft statement covering the period to the end of March 2012, which included forecasts to the end-of-life of the systems. The Committee asked the NAO to review the benefits statement prior to its publication.
Press notices and reports are available from the date of publication on the NAO website, which is at www.nao.org.uk. Hard copies can be obtained from The Stationery Office on 0845 702 3474.
The National Audit Office scrutinises public spending for Parliament and is independent of government. The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), Amyas Morse, is an Officer of the House of Commons and leads the NAO, which employs some 867 staff. The C&AG certifies the accounts of all government departments and many other public sector bodies. He has statutory authority to examine and report to Parliament on whether departments and the bodies they fund have used their resources efficiently, effectively, and with economy. Our studies evaluate the value for money of public spending, nationally and locally. Our recommendations and reports on good practice help government improve public services, and our work led to audited savings of almost £1.2 billion in 2012.