What was the Project?
The project was an initiative by the Department
of Health in England to move the National
Health Service (NHS) in England towards a single,
centrally-mandated electronic care record for patients and to connect
practitioners to 300 hospitals, providing secure and audited access
to these records by authorised health professionals and also It was planned
that patients would have access to their records online through a service
called HealthSpace. NPfIT was called to be “the world’s biggest civil
information technology programme”.
This ambitious programme launched in 2002 with
an initial budget of some $8.6 billion, the system was seems to be slow,
cumbersome, insufficiently explained and poorly implemented and therefore this
initiative was not trusted by doctors and appeared to have no impact on patient
safety, also the project was marred by resistance due to the inappropriateness
of a centralized authority making top-down decisions on behalf of local
organizations. Finally the NPfIT was officially dismantled in September 2011.
Officials involved in the programme have indicated a cost overrun of
440% to 770%
Why was it dismantled?
are some underlying questions about why major public sector IT project went
1) Lack of adequate end user engagement
politicians and programme managers rushed into
policy-making, procurement and implementation processes just to rap the rewards
which allowed little time for consultation with key stakeholders and failed to
deal with confidentiality concerns including unrealistic timetables, not
allowing enough time to engage end users and failure to check progress against
2) Underestimating the scale of the project
To reduce costs and ensure swift uptake at the
local levels, the government pursued an overambitious and unwieldy centralised
model, without considering user satisfaction and confidentiality issues. Limitations
of large-scale IT projects is the longer the project takes, the more likely it
is to be overtaken by new technology and that the scale of NPfIT in itself was
too ambitious to manage competently.
3) The absence of Strategy and Skills
clear direction, project management and an exit strategy, resulted an ambitious
programme quickly turned into system-wide failures. Furthermore, the culture
within the Department Of Health and government in general was not favourable to
swift identification and rectification of strategic or technical errors which
showed a lack of clear leadership, a lack of concern for privacy issues, no
exit plans and no alternatives and lack of project management skills.