Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Latest On NHS Computer Disaster


We've blogged before about the disastrous National Programme for Information Technology (see here). NPfIT is the NHS plan to centralise all patient record keeping on yet another Big Brother style supercomputer. Originally budgeted at £2.3bn, it's now reckoned likely to cost up to £50bn, and it's the largest civilian IT programme in the entire history of the world.

Quite rightly, it's being investigated by spending watchdog the National Audit Office, who will deliver their report in the summer. But NAO head Sir John Bourn has already given us a taster of what it's likely to say:

"The report is developing and essentially there are two main points in it. One is in relation to technical expertise, the design of the system and the contracting for it.

The other one is the failure to take the people in the National Health Service with the system. I have been very keen to make it absolutely clear that, in the report that I produce, it will make clear the failure to take the people in the National Health Service with them."

NPfIT is failing on both counts, as we've said before. Technically, even the few bits that have already been delivered don't work properly. And managerially, the top-down NHS sledgehammer has failed to realise that this system is not actually wanted or needed by frontline staff.

We await Sir John's report with interest.

PS One of the junior Tylers happens to know a few of the geeks working for the various IT companies contracted by NPfIT. The contracts are notoriously juicy and virtually open-ended- obviously a welcome gravy train for them, and as they say, you can't blame them for the Department of Health's stupidity. In the words of Tyler Jnr, "for real man...for real."

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