Procurement: spate v blight

With the advent of the demise of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) will we see a procurement spate or blight?

Eight days ago we heard for the third time from the coalition government that NPfIT is dead and in last week’s blog, Sarah Bruce questioned once again whether this is finally it? Surely the cancellation of the contracts and a potentially enormous legal dispute could cripple the Department of Health, so is the intention just to let the LSP contracts ‘wither on the vine?’

Either way the announcement that Intellect will be working with the Department of Health’s Informatics Directorate is very welcome, especially after it has launched a campaign to engage with over 280 healthcare suppliers of different types and sizes.

Interestingly there are far more IT vendors now than at the start of the NPfIT, many who went away to other countries after being shut out from the programme have come back much stronger.

The view from Mike Sinclair, vice-chair BCS Health, is particularly interesting. He explains: “While we welcome this move, we are concerned however, that this is being done in the absence of an informatics strategy and without any guidance on the future of existing contracts or whether money will be devolved into the NHS alongside responsibility.”

Sinclair appears to be absolutely right. Will chief executives of NHS trusts now be applying for their part of the £12 billion? If this is the case then no procurements will take place as they wonder whether IT funding will be released from the centre. Or perhaps will we see the demise of the NPfIT as removing the ‘’handcuffs’ from NHS trusts keen to start their own procurements. Either way IT vendors should see some very interesting times.

As IT professionals we have a duty to support the government’s transformation agenda. But how will the systems and infrastructure be procured to support the transformation? It is key that procurement takes places within the appropriate timescales and if those timescales fall into many months or potentially years, then there will really be no transformation at all.

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Jeremy Nettle

Industry Advisor
Jeremy is one of the best-known and most experienced figures in healthcare technology, having worked in the sector for more than thirty years.

He started his career as a clinician in the NHS and went on to become IT director at Salisbury Healthcare NHS Trust from 1997-2002. From there, he moved into the private sector when he joined Lockheed Martin as director of business development within the public sector; a new sector for the company.

Jeremy went on to work for Intellect (now techUK) as chair of the Health and Social Care Group, giving a voice to more than 260 suppliers on IT policy issues, before joining Oracle as director of business development, EMEA healthcare and then global client advisor for Health and Life Science.

Jeremy is now semi-retired, but still works as a health and social care business advisor and sits on the board of companies, educational organisations and charities. Since January 2019, he has also chaired Highland Marketing’s advisory board, which is available to the agency and its clients for advice and support on effective communications and marketing.

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