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NHS trust IT spending continues to balloon

Total IT spend in the sector will increase by 4.2 percent in 2012-2013, despite overall trust budgets remaining flat

NHS acute trusts in England will be spending £830 million a year on IT in four years time, as they respond to the axing of the National Programme for IT and other pressures, according to research.

The "Market by numbers" report from EHI Intelligence reveals that total IT spend in the sector will increase by 4.2 percent in 2012-2013, despite overall trust budgets remaining flat.

It also shows that spending will continue to grow in each of the following three years, reaching £830 million in 2015-16. This is in marked contrast to the squeeze on public sector spending that is expected over the remaining years of the current Parliament.

Big-ticket software applications at trusts will include picture archiving communication systems (PACS), radiology information systems (RIS), electronic patient records (EPR) and patient administration systems (PAS). EHI Intelligence predicts that £141 million will be spent on PASs by 2015-16.

The report says almost all categories of IT product spend will increase over the next five years, with significant increases for IT services, hardware and software, and smaller but "significant" increases for IT staff.

The forecasts are based on key data collected through EHI Intelligence's in-depth interview programme with NHS IT directors, the 100,000 data points on the EHI Intelligence NHS Trust Database, and "insight" from suppliers selling to the market.

While trusts look to spend more on big IT projects, the government claims it can save £1.2 billion over five years through the wider use of telecare technology.

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