Sunday, July 09, 2006

Recent Bonfires- 23

In the news this week:

£28m on legal fees for NHS Supercomputer- "Connecting for Health has received a £28.2m bill for legal work, one of the biggest ever bills for legal work in the public sector and reportedly the largest on a single project. Further hefty fees look highly likely with the NHS IT project now running two years late, and renegotiations with its prime contractors continuing. According to trade magazine The Lawyer, the hefty bill run up by CfH on the NHS IT project raises questions about whether public sector bodies have the organisational infrastructure to scrutinise legal fees. It quotes ‘one well-placed observer of the project’ as saying he believed £10-15m would have been a reasonable fee, rather than £28m. The observer is quoted as saying: "Projects like this are a licence to print money. They'll screw you on rates, but they don't do value checks on the number of lawyers involved. I don't know if you'd get away with this in the private sector." (e-health insider 4.07.06)

Another £1.5bn lost administering benefits- "The efficiency of the benefits system has plummeted under Labour. Productivity in the welfare system - run by the Department for Work and Pensions - dropped by 25pc in the five years to 2003, the Office for National Statistics said. Economists said this could be a sign that, despite the installation of new computers, the department was not able to cut costs as much as hoped... According to the ONS, £6bn was spent on administering the welfare system last year." (Telegraph 6.07.06)

£15,000 to fund Scottish Socialist paper- "THE Scottish Socialist Party has earned a total of £15,000 in public money since the last Holyrood election by placing overpriced adverts in its own in-house newspaper. Its MSPs have 'bought' space in the SSP-owned Scottish Socialist Voice to advertise their surgeries, and then claimed the funds back through their publicly funded Holyrood allowances. Since the last election, the party's six MSPs have raked in a total of £15,175. The sums claimed are £2,375 for former party leader Tommy Sheridan, £2,780 for current leader Colin Fox, £3,220 for MSP Carolyn Leckie, £2,570 for Frances Curran, £2,530 for Rosie Kane and £1,700 for Rosemary Byrne." (Scotsman 9.07.06)

£35m Agency fails to grip £2.4bn NHS losses- "Nearly a million patient safety incidents or "near misses" in a single year were recorded in NHS trusts, MPs say in a report which questions the effectiveness of the National Patient Safety Agency. The agency, which cost £35 million to run last year, has made insufficient progress and experienced cost over-runs and delays, the public accounts committee (PAC) said... Errors cost the NHS around £2 billion a year in extra bed days and some £400 million in settled clinical negligence claims. Around half of incidents could have been avoided if lessons from previous incidents had been learnt. The agency was set up in 2001 to streamline complaints reporting with a aim of letting organisations learn from mistakes made by others...But...the system was delivered "several years late" and had led to "serious delay" in the development and sharing of effective solutions, both locally and nationally. "Given this dysfunctional performance, the contribution the agency has made towards improving patient safety and achieving value for money for the taxpayer has been extremely weak." (Telegraph 6.07.06)

This week's total- £3,963,015,000

Cartoon: Sunday Times

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