What was the Project?The project was an initiative by the Department of Health in England to movethe National Health Service (NHS) in England towards a single, centrally-mandated electroniccare record for patients and to connect 30,000 general practitioners to 300 hospitals, providingsecure and audited access to these records by authorised health professionals and also It wasplanned that patients would have access to their records online through a service calledHealthSpace. NPfIT was called to be “the world’s biggest civil information technologyprogramme”.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 poorlyimplemented and therefore this initiative was not trusted by doctors and appeared to have noimpact on patient safety, also the project was marred by resistance due to the inappropriatenessof a centralized authority making top-down decisions on behalf of local organizations. Finally theNPfIT was officially dismantled in September 2011.
Officials involved in the programme haveindicated a cost overrun of 440% to 770%Why was it dismantled?Following are some underlying questions about why major public sector IT project went wrong.1) Lack of adequate end user engagementpoliticians and programme managers rushed into policy-making, procurement andimplementation processes just to rap the rewards which allowed little time for consultation withkey stakeholders and failed to deal with confidentiality concerns including unrealistic timetables,not allowing enough time to engage end users and failure to check progress againstexpectations.2) Underestimating the scale of the projectTo reduce costs and ensure swift uptake at the local levels, the government pursued anoverambitious and unwieldy centralised model, without considering user satisfaction andconfidentiality issues. Limitations of large-scale IT projects is the longer the project takes, themore likely it is to be overtaken by new technology and that the scale of NPfIT in itself was tooambitious to manage competently.
3) The absence of Strategy and SkillsNPfIT lacked clear direction, project management and an exit strategy, resulted anambitious programme quickly turned into system-wide failures. Furthermore, the culture withinthe Department Of Health and government in general was not favourable to swift identificationand rectification of strategic or technical errors which showed a lack of clear leadership, a lackof concern for privacy issues, no exit plans and no alternatives and lack of project managementskills.