The government has officially called an end to the NHS National Programme for IT after eight years and £12.7 billion spent on the project.
Announcing the project’s cancellation, the Department of Health said a "centralised, national approach [to NHS IT] is no longer required" and it will instead encourage "local decision-making".
"The nationally imposed system is neither necessary nor appropriate to deliver this," said health minister Simon Burns in a statement. "We will allow hospitals to use and develop the IT they already have and add to their environment either by integrating systems purchased through the existing national contracts or elsewhere."
However, most of the projects that made up the NPfIT will remain in place. The government says the termination of the NPfIT as a centralised project will save £700 million – just 5% of the estimated cost to date.
A notorious example of government overspend on IT, the NPfIT was originally announced in 2002. At the time, the cost was esimated at £5 billion. In 2009, it was forecast that the combined cost would be £12.7 billon.