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How we started

Key Facts

  • Formed as an agency within the Department of Health on 1 April 2005
  • The Department of Health announced the creation of a new organisation in July 2004
  • The Wanless Report of April 2002 had several key recommendations for NHS IT

NHS Connecting for Health is an agency of the Department of Health. It was formed on 1 April 2005 with the primary role of delivering the National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

The programme has its origins in the 1998 Department of Health strategy Information for Health (PDF 1.65Mb). This committed the NHS to lifelong electronic health records for patients, round-the-clock, online access to patient records for clinicians and information about best clinical practice for all.

Following the development of the NHS Plan (PDF 1.1Mb), a supporting document called Building the Information Core: Implementing the NHS Plan (PDF 126Kb) was published in January 2001. This outlined the information and IT systems needed to deliver the NHS Plan and support patient-centred care and services.

In 2001, Derek Wanless, a commissioner with the Statistics Commission, was asked to examine future trends affecting the health service in the UK over the next two decades. The Wanless Report, published in April 2002, had several key recommendations for IT in the NHS. These included:

  • a doubling and protecting of IT spend
  • stringent, centrally-managed national standards for data and IT
  • the better management of IT implementation in the NHS, including a national programme.

The Wanless Report coincided with the publication of Delivering the NHS Plan (PDF 177Kb) which developed the vision of "a service designed around the patient" offering patients more choice of where and when to access treatment.

In June 2002 the Department of Health published its new strategy for developing IT in the NHS - Delivering 21st Century IT Support for the NHS – A National Strategic Programme (PDF 132Kb).

This strategy laid the foundations for the National Programme for IT, including the creation of a ministerial taskforce and the recruitment of a director general. The programme was established formally in October 2002. Its task was to procure, develop and implement modern, integrated IT infrastructure and systems for all NHS organisations in England.

Two years later, following the Review of its Arms Length Bodies (ALB), the Department of Health announced the creation of a new organisation, combining responsibility for the delivery of the National Programme with the management of the IT-related functions of the NHS Information Authority (NHSIA) which would close. This organisation was NHS Connecting for Health.