NHS spending on new IT has stalled because of the secrecy surrounding the new National Programme for IT (NPfIT), according to IT suppliers.
A lack of information has led to confusion among NHS IT managers about what they can spend their local IT budgets on, they claim.
Roger Wallhouse, chairman of two specialist healthcare IT suppliers - Stalis and Infermed - insisted that local spending had been cut this year because of NPfIT.
"There has been a considerable number of cancellations and projects put in abeyance since the programme was announced," he said.
"Others have taken note of it and the general feeling across the NHS is to wait for the selection of Local Service Providers [LSPs]."
LSPs will manage procurement for the five NHS regions in England and will be appointed by the end of the year.
Richard Granger, director general of NHS IT, has asked suppliers to report any NHS Trust that suspends projects.
NPfIT maintains that local spending outside the National Programme has continued unabated at levels similar to last year, when the NHS spent £850m locally on IT.
Laurence Harrison, head of the healthcare group at Intellect, confirmed that it had reported a handful of NHS organisations that had suspended IT projects this year.
Suppliers have indicated that little money is being spent on new systems, going instead on maintenance and PC and network infrastructure upgrades.
Another advisor to NHS IT managers said: "It's a sensitive issue because we are saying that there is a planning blight and Granger is saying: 'Show me the evidence - there's £850m being spent.'
"Both points of view are true. Suppliers aren't seeing projects come through but money is being spent. In some cases it's being spent on other things, but from the IT budget."
Between 10 and 20 per cent of local IT budgets are usually discretionary spend on new systems, according to Paul Goss, a director at healthcare IT research company Silicon Bridge.
Estimates just compiled for 2003 put total IT spend, including NPfIT and spend on financial services, at £1.39bn.
Goss pointed out that the last quarter is when most spending occurs in the NHS.
But he conceded that, as the workings of NPfIT were still to be established and suppliers had reported delays in spending so far this year, "it may be a squeeze for this fiscal year [to spend the usual amount]".
NPfIT said in a statement: "The National Programme for IT does not control all NHS IT funds.
"However, it is critical to the success of the National Programme for local investments, procurements and decisions to continue on information management and technology initiatives that are fit for the future.
"This is to ensure that the NHS is in a position to harness the systems being delivered by the National Programme."
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago