NHS hires Porter Novelli for IT scheme

The Government has called in Porter Novelli (PN) to help quash growing concern over security, cost and timing issues surrounding the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) – the biggest ever civil IT programme in the UK.

The year-long account is believed to be worth over £1m. Under NPfIT all NHS patient records will be stored electronically on a system called the Care Records Service (CRS).

PN is promoting patients’ rights to opt out of the scheme. ‘Patients can choose to have certain parts of their records stored in “sealed envelopes”, for example details about their sexual or mental health,’ said NPfIT head of communications James Herbert.

Doctors have voiced concerns over the security of the plan, despite reassurances that it will use state-of-the-art technology.

The programme will have a phased rollout and will be fully in place by 2014, said Herbert.

The Government has a chequered history of failed IT programmes, including schemes at the Criminal Records Bureau, the Passport Office, and the Child Protection Agency.

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