NHS IT spending has stalled because of the secrecy with which the new multibillion-pound National Programme for IT (NPfIT) is being implemented, according to channel players in the healthcare sector.
A lack of information has led to confusion among NHS IT managers about what they can spend local IT budgets on.
According to the NPfIT, local spending outside the programme has continued at levels similar to last year, but this has been disputed by healthcare specialists.
Roger Wallhouse, chairman of healthcare IT specialist Stalis and Infermed, said: "There has been a lot of projects cancelled or put in abeyance since the programme was announced. The general feeling across the NHS is that they are waiting for the selection of the Local Service Providers [LSPs]."
LSPs will manage procurement for the five NHS regions in England and will be appointed by the end of the year.
Richard Granger, director general of NHS IT, has asked suppliers to report any NHS Trust that suspends IT projects.
Eddy Peers, director of Mentis Management Consultants, which offers advice to NHS organisations on procurement, said: "Discretionary spending has slowed down, presumably because the policy is to designate everything from before the appointment of the LSPs as a legacy system, regardless of how new it is."
Nick Pascoe, managing director of Formic, which sells electronic data capture software and has about 270 NHS customers, said: "Revenues did not see their usual peak, which we put down to the delay in decision making."
The NPfIT said in a statement: "The NPfIT does not control all NHS IT funds. However, it is critical for local investments, procurements and decisions to continue on IT initiatives that are fit for the future, to ensure that the NHS is in a position to harness the systems being delivered by the national programme."
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