“Major issues” with frontline digitisation programme and GP IT Futures programme government projects report

The latest annual report on the Government Major Projects Portfolio from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority has been published, with insights including an update that the previously established deadline of March 2025 for every NHS trust to reach a core level digitisation and capability “appears to be unachievable”.

Of the eight major projects falling under the remit of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), three of them are coded as red – meaning that successful delivery looks to be unachievable, with “major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable.” Projects in red may need rescoping and their overall viability assessed.

The Frontline Digitisation Programme, driving electronic patient record roll-out across all NHS trusts with the aim of 90 percent of trusts having an EPR in place by December this year, is one of the projects flagged as red, however NHS England highlights the roll-out to 90 percent of trusts is on track to be achieved.

Another is the GP IT Futures Programme. The report highlights that to date this programme has delivered a new commercial model to replace the previous General Practice Systems of Choice procurement framework, along with developing a new GP IT Futures capabilities and standards model, digital care services catalogue and underpinning frameworks. It does not specify why the programme is flagged as potentially unachievable in its current format as per the red coding, but describes it as “an evolving model” that will “continue to drive innovation, competition, and value”.

The third project facing “major issues” is the UK Health Security Agency Science Hub Programme, which aims to “create a health security campus to provide the UK’s leading science centre of excellence”. Under its existing scope, this project has aimed to enhance ageing facilities at Porton and Colindale to “bring together expertise from world-leading academic and commercial institutions to protect the public’s health security and reduce inequalities”.

Of the remaining five projects, four are deemed amber: “successful delivery appears feasible but significant issues already exist, requiring management attention. These appear resolvable at this stage and, if addressed promptly, should not present a cost/schedule overrun.”

The amber projects include the Digitising Social Care Programme, driving the implementation of social care records and supporting local systems to test supporting technologies; and the Electronic Staff Record Transformation Programme, aiming to achieve implementation of a single workforce management tool for the NHS. The report shares that this programme will deliver a roadmap for this service from August 2025 including technology, application and service design.

Also scoring amber is the Integrated Single Financial Environment (ISFE) project, which seeks to procure and implement the next generation of NHS England group ISFE and associated financial services. The report highlights that procurement is now complete for this project with a contract in place with NHS Shared Business Services; implementation is due to commence in April 2024.

The fourth project graded amber is the NHS AI Lab, promoting the acceleration of safe, ethnical and effective adoption of AI in health and care.

Finally, exempt from progress scoring, the report shares an update on the New Hospital Programme. It notes that £3.7 billion of initial capital funding has been released to support activity up to March 2025. The report adds that the Prime Minister has announced an open competition for a further eight schemes to be built by 2030, taking the number of hospitals due to be delivered by the end of the decade to 48.

Across the DHSC’s eight projects, the report highlights that the total whole life cost stands at £14.5 billion with total monetised benefits estimated to be £55.6 billion.

The report can be accessed in full here.