The introduction of computerised NHS medical records is facing more delays, MPs have been warned.
According to the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the £12 bn-plus National Programme for IT (NPfIT), has been deployed just six times in the first five months of 2008/09, despite an original completion date of 2010.
It said more delays can be expected after the termination of a contract with supplier Fujitsu, which was installing the programme in the southern England, last May, after months of negotiating.
The implementation of the system in the North was also stalled after supplier Accenture departed in 2006.
MPs have said the recent progress of the system, which is designed to link more than 30,000 GPs to nearly 300 hospitals, has been "very disappointing".
The PAC report said: "The completion date of 2014-15, four years later than originally planned, was forecast before the termination of Fujitsu's contract and must now be in doubt. The arrangements for the south have still not been resolved.
"The Department of Health and the NHS are working with suppliers and should update the deployment timetables.
Despite its problems, the government insists the system will benefit patient care and could prove vital in an emergency.
Copyright © Press Association 2009
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"We are a 12,000-patient, six-partner, well-established training practice working over two local sites, five days per week and supporting additional hours' patient access, with an excellent record of delivering quality care. Our patients and full range of services are split 50/50 between our two sites. Like most UK split-site GP practices, the BT kylostream line from our server on one site to the the remote site beggars belief. BT would charge the NHS and our local PCT in the region of £30,000 annual maintenance to provide an adequate and secure line! I challenge anyone out there to find a domestic ISP who currently offers its customers such a low capacity connection! The result is unacceptably slow EMIS access at the remote site, particularly on Mondays, tortoise pace exchange of emails and record scanning at one site only. This, despite seven years' discussion with our PCT and CfH. EMISWeb is just around the corner? Trouble is, it has been just around the corner for so long we have gone through 360 degrees at least five times in the last two years! 20th Century Britain, Mr Milburn? More like third world catastrophe!!! So we are completely stuffed. Not only can we not participate fully in the ill-fated computerised patient records fiasco, we can't exchange information in an up-to-date format internally within our own practice!" – Ian Petrie, Barnet
"Is this really a surprise? Another of the Blair-sofa political decisions that seemed like a whizz bang idea to everyone who didn't know anything about the comlexities of the NHS" – Name and address withheld
"No surprises here – the whole NPfIT programme has been like building a house without laying any foundations to support it just to hit government targets. When can we get back to patients and delivering quality care, not systems down or unavailable but a service that works" – Steve Leadbitter, Peterborough