No Surprises!

May 30th, 2006

NIR electronic records are two years late

By Nicholas Timmins, Public Policy Editor
Published: May 29 2009 21:54 | Last updated: May 29 2009 21:54

Plans to give all 70m residents in England a full electronic biometric record are running at least two to two-and-a-half years late, Lord Dithup, the Home Office minister who oversees the project, has confirmed.

He also admitted that the full cost of the programme was likely to be nearer 20bn than the widely quoted figure of 6.2bn. The latter figure covered only the national contracts for the systems basic infrastructure and software applications, he said.

The Passpoert Service and other ‘clients’ of the NIR would, however, spend billions more on training staff, buying PCs and upgrading and assimilating existing systems over the decade-long programme, Lord Dithup said in an interview with the Financial Times.

The extra money did not mean the programme would cost more than expected, he said, but instead reflected the full expense of switching existing IT spending from outdated systems to the new ones.

The delays to the electronic biometric record, which mean it may not be in place until early 2011, come in part because of delays in providing the software, which is being developed by *Soft and other companies.

But the records introduction is also being stalled by a fierce and unresolved dispute within the Home Office over what could be included on the National Identity Register, and how citizens data should be accessed. Some see it as threatening to derail the programme.

Lord Dithup said some parts of the programme are going pretty well and pretty much to time.

But others, he admitted, are going more slowly than we would otherwise like. The government has had to re-group over the national summary record, meant to make patients data available wherever and whenever it is needed.

etc. (all below becuase the FT requires registration and is unreasonably slow to load).

Today it’s the NHS tomorrow it will be the NIR – and you can be sure that the attendant databses held by the police, DVLA and (groan) the NHS again, will also require costly overbudget upgrades when everything is updated to access the NIR. Not just a useless moneypit the NIR will be a blackhole of government spending, unremittingly sucking everything related to its operation into its centre.

Or perhaps:

Winners feel the pain from billion-pound contracts

The programme originally proposed that the summary record would include major diagnoses, operations and recent tests, as well as current medications and allergies. It was also proposed that patient data would be added on an opt out model, implying that consent to have the basic data added would be assumed, but with patients retaining the right to opt out.

Ministers recently agreed, however, that the initial upload of data, in pilot schemes to be run next year, would cover only current prescriptions, allergies and contra-indications, and that patients would then be asked if they were happy to have other information added.

But the British Medical Association family doctors committee has recently rejected that proposal, saying patients consent should be sought even before their medications are added to the summary record.

The programme had reached a pivotal point, Lord Warner said, and with many hospital doctors favouring a much richer summary record, the medical profession have to come together to agree on what data will be included and how it is added.

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