Friday, August 25, 2006
Supercomputer- Just Do It
We've always thought it appalling that the multi-billion NHS Supercomputer was given the go ahead with no proper cost-benefit analysis to support the case (see eg this blog).
We now realise how stupid we've been. The fact is that there was such an analysis. The only reason we've never been told about it is that it didn't support going ahead:
"The Government gave the go-ahead for its controversial NHS IT programme even though costs exceeded known benefits.
Ministers initially "hugely over-estimated" the benefits of the £12.4 billion programme and costs exceeded benefits in eight out of 10 areas. [According to a Freedom of Information release] annual quantified benefits for four out of five regional areas was £438 million set against costs of £604 million.
The electronic "choose and book" part of the National Programme for IT would cost £464 million against a lifetime benefit of £257 million."
We often criticise the incompetence and muddle of our health bureaucrats. But this one's squarely down to the politicos. Remember, the decision to go-ahead was taken at a meeting on 18 February 2002, and chaired by the Beloved Leader himself. At that time the NHS was flush with Gordo's largesse, and five-times-a-night Tone was in the mood for more Just Do It macho initiatives. The next one was Iraq.
PS The bureaucrats themselves are of course not innocent. According to industry insiders, they presented ministers with seriously understated delivery risks for the project, and probably misled ministers into believing the risks were low (eg see this Computer Weekly report). Talk about the egregious leading the egregious.
Posted by Mike D at 7:22 am