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Waste that the country can no longer afford

The Register - The NHS IT scheme will be remembered as one of the great public procurement disasters of all time. The cost has been staggering. Some £6.4bn has been spent. The original 2007 deadline for the completion of the vast project was missed. And now the Government is expected to call a halt to the entire project. Instead of a national database of patients' records, as originally envisaged by the previous Labour government in 2002, we will have a patchwork of incompatible systems.

The House of Commons Public Affairs Committee argues in its new report into the fiasco today that the Department of Health should have consulted more extensively with health professionals before embarking on the project. That is certainly true. Many doctors still do not understand why this new system is being pushed on them. But this has to be seen in a larger context. For this is merely the most expensive in a long line of public-sector IT failures. From the Rural Payments Agency, to the National Offender Management Information System, just about every ambitious IT system inaugurated over the past decade-and- a-half has gone wrong.