The NHS in England needs “clarity” about the role of the centre and the responsibilities of local organisations to make the most of the government’s latest reforms.
Participants in an eHealth Insider round table, sponsored by iSoft, warned that without clarity, talented people and good investments could be lost in the “chaos” of the current changes.
John Cruikshank, director of Health ICT Consulting, who wrote a major report on the future of the National Programme for IT in the NHS two years ago, said clarity was also needed to keep up momentum on IT investment.
“Some NHS organisations may be well capable of responding to the IT agenda, but some may not be,” he said. “As strategic health authorities disappear, we may see a return to the days of the 1990s, where we had clear leaders and clear laggards in terms of the application and use of IT.”
Jonathan Edwards, managing director of The Advisory Board Company, said that with the end of the National Programme for IT in the NHS some trusts seemed to be pulling back from local health informatics services.
“Trusts are saying ‘we need to start from scratch’,” he said, warning that while this presented opportunities, it also created challenges because of the difficult financial environment in which trusts are operating.
As the financial squeeze went on, there was a need to build strong business cases around IT procurements and the benefits they could bring, he said.
Paul Smith, EHI Intelligence head of research, agreed the pressure was on for business cases to show a quick financial return - often within a year.
He said the EHI Intelligence Market Forecast Report, published for the first time in 2011, had shown that some NHS IT directors were worried that this would make it difficult to invest in technologies that might deliver a bigger return over time, particularly for clinicians and patients.
However, he was optimistic for 2012 which he said would present plenty of opportunities as people in the NHS and the IT industry “really want to make things happen.”
Read a full report of the round-table in the Insight section.
© 2011 EHealth Media.
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