Disengaged workers threaten NHS IT project

The multibillion-pound National Health Service IT programme could fail due to
demoralised staff, research has suggested.

The £6.2bn National Programme for IT, now known as Connecting for Health, is
a 10-year project running until 2012 that is divided into five key cluster areas
spread across the UK. It involves multi-mullion pound contracts with some the
world’s biggest consulting firms including Accenture and CSC.

The programme aims to overhaul the way medical records are kept,
prescriptions issued and appointments booked by 2012, but the London School of
Hygiene and Tropical Medicine team said front-line workers felt ‘disengaged’,
the British Medical Journal has reported.

NHS managers from four trusts told researchers there was so little
consultation and communication from CfH officials that it posed a threat to the
programme being successful.

After talking to 23 senior clinical and non-clinical staff at the end of
2004, the team concluded there was confusion about how the system would be
implemented. Some reported that local, existing IT systems for radiology and
pathology urgently needed replacing, but upgrade work had been put on hold as
implementation of the programme was phased in.

Dr Jane Hendy, a lead researchers, said that staff had shown a ‘willingness
to overcome’ the technical problems of getting the programme working, but that
it was ‘time the programme’s headquarters engaged with managers and health
professionals to implement it’.

A programme spokeswoman said a major communications push would begin ‘soon’.

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