Headlines: March 23rd, 2004

User influence on the technology developments in the NHS has been stepped up with the appointment of Professor Aidan Halligan as joint Director of the National IT Programme. He will share the role with Richard Granger, who is currently Director General. Professor Halligan will lead on work to engage doctors and other clinicians to ensure NHS IT is user friendly and supports the Government’s top priority of putting the interests of patients first.In a further move to strengthen user influence, John Bacon, the Department of Health’s Director of Delivery has been appointed as chair of the National IT Programme Board. His role will be to ensure that the IT programme plays a full part in the wider NHS reforms and that NHS managers are on side and help to deliver the programme.

The greater user involvement reflects the progress of the National Programme for IT. The eighth and final contract was awarded in February and this completes the procurement phase of the project which was concluded ahead of schedule and within budget. The focus is now on the suppliers getting on with delivering the project and on the NHS getting ready to implement the transformation in processes and performance that will be made possible by the IT.

The new systems and services will bring benefits for clinicians including improved information and greater support in diagnosis with instant access to patient records, diagnostic images and results, plus knowledge of all care providers involved in treating patients. Other benefits include more efficient referrals between care sectors, fewer lost referrals and missed appointments as the patient will be involved in selecting the time and date of their appointment.