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.