The UK's National Programme for IT: Why was it dismantled?

Health Serv Manage Res. 2017 Feb;30(1):2-9. doi: 10.1177/0951484816662492. Epub 2016 Nov 16.


This paper discusses the UK's National Programme for IT (NPfIT), which was an ambitious programme launched in 2002 with an initial budget of some £6.2 billion. It attempted to implement a top-down digitization of healthcare in England's National Health Service (NHS). The core aim of the NPfIT was to bring the NHS' use of information technology into the 21st century, through the introduction of an integrated electronic patient record systems, and reforming the way that the NHS uses information, and hence to improve services and the quality of patient care. The initiative was not trusted by doctors and appeared to have no impact on patient safety. The project was marred by resistance due to the inappropriateness of a centralized authority making top-down decisions on behalf of local organizations. The NPfIT was officially dismantled in September 2011. Deemed the world's largest civil IT programme, its failure and ultimate demise sparked a lot of interest as to the reasons why. This paper summarises the underlying causes that lead to dismantling the NPfIT. At the forefront of those circumstances were the lack of adequate end user engagement, the absence of a phased change management approach, and underestimating the scale of the project.

Keywords: NHS; change management; electronic patient records; health informatics; healthcare information systems; medical information systems.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Electronic Health Records
  • England
  • Humans
  • Information Science
  • Medical Informatics*
  • State Medicine*