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British gov't abandons its own health care computer system

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(Photo: AP)

What are the chances that the U.S. might learn from Britain's mistakes?

A plan to create the world's largest single civilian computer system linking all parts of the National Health Service is to be abandoned by the Government after running up billions of pounds in bills. Ministers are expected to announce next month that they are scrapping a central part of the much-delayed and hugely controversial 10-year National Programme for IT.

Instead, local health trusts and hospitals will be allowed to develop or buy individual computer systems to suit their needs – with a much smaller central server capable of "interrogating" them to provide centralised information on patient care. News of the Government's plans comes as a damning report from a cross-party committee of MPs concludes that the £11.4bn programme had proved "beyond the capacity of the Department of Health to deliver".

The Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that, while the intention of creating a centralised database of electronic patient records was a "worthwhile aim", a huge amount of money had been wasted.

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