Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Mother Of All Juggernaut Disasters

Out of control and heading our way

This morning the Public Accounts Committee published one of the longest reports it has ever produced- 180 pages on the National Programme for IT, the NHS' not-very-super-supercomputer. We've blogged the wretched thing many times of course (see all NPfIT blogs gathered here), but the news just goes on getting worse.

Much of the PAC's report is a record of the detailed evidence they gathered (including a letter from supplier Fujitsu damning their employee Andrew Rollerson, who shot his mouth off about the whole disaster earlier in the year- see here and here).

But PAC's stark conclusions (pages 5-7) could stand for every Big Government project since the dawn of creation:
  • Meaningless delivery timetable- "The delivery of the patient clinical record, which is central to obtaining the benefits of the programme, is already two years behind schedule and no firm implementation dates exist"

  • Shambolic cost control- "The Department has not sought to maintain a detailed record of overall expenditure on the Programme and estimates of its total cost have ranged from £6.2 billion up to £20 billion"

  • No cost benefit appraisal- "The Department’s investment appraisal of the Programme did not seek to demonstrate that its financial benefits outweighed its cost"

  • No delivery capability- "There is a shortage of appropriate and skilled capacity to deliver the systems"

  • No user involvement- "The Department has failed to carry an important body of clinical opinion with it"

  • Driven by technology hype not practical business needs- "The Programme has focused too narrowly on the delivery of the IT systems, at the expense of proper consideration of how best to use IT within a broader process of business change"

  • Muddled responsibilities- "The Department should clarify responsibility and accountability for the local implementation"

  • Failure- "At the present rate of progress it is unlikely that significant clinical benefits will be delivered by the end of the contract period"
It's so bad and so horribly predictable, you almost want to laugh.
Well, no. You don't want to laugh at all. You want to scream.
It is an outrage that we taxpaying customers are being forced to spend yet more billions on yet another Stalinist fantasy that was never going to offer value, or even work.
Stalwart PAC member Richard Bacon writes about the fiasco in today's Telegraph. He reminds us how one expert described the project to the Committee:
"It was like being in a juggernaut lorry going up the M1 and it did not really matter where you went as long as you arrived somewhere on time. Then, when you had arrived somewhere, you would go out and buy a product, but you were not quite sure what you wanted to buy. To be honest, I do not think the people selling it knew what we needed."
Such juggernauts exist all over Big Government. Ill-informed grandstanding politicos commit us to some overblown nonsense like the NPfIT or the 2012 Olympics*, without having a clue how much it will cost, whether the costs make sense against the supposed benefits, or how the thing will actually be delivered. It's only once we're on the motorway we find out nobody knows how to steer, and the only way of stopping is to crash a bridge parapet.
Which is what Bacon sensibly proposes right now. He recommends that the NPfIT and its agency Connecting for Health be terminated forthwith. Pointing out that so far we've actually "only" spent £2bn- ie we still haven't even reached Newport Pagnell Services- he says:
"This disastrous agency should be put out of its misery, but most of its budget - £10 billion is still unspent - and its purchasing functions should be handed over to local hospital bosses. Any remaining functions could be handled by the Department of Health directly. IT has a tremendous role to play in healthcare and it saves lives.
One size does not fit all. The obvious solution is something similar to that which worked very well for GPs in the mid-1990s. Hospitals should be allowed to choose the systems they want, provided that those systems meet national standards. The role of the centre should be confined to setting those standards and allocating budgets. Hospital chief executives should have the freedom to buy what they want for their hospital, in consultation with their own clinicians and also be given contractual responsibility for delivering it.
This approach would not only deliver more products more quickly - it would also save a fortune, which the next prime minister will wish to note well."

*PS Tess was on BBC R4 Today this morning, wittering on again about the 2012 "budget" and how the costs have only soared because they found all that land contamination they couldn't possibly have known about previously, and how that huge Contingency Reserve won't be needed anyway so it doesn't count as cost (see the vid blog here). She sounded like a dame lashed to the wheel of some huge out-of-control juggernaut thundering towards the parapet of certain dismissal this summer. What a shame we can't all bale out at the same time.


  1. Bạn có muốn mua đồ bên Nhật mà lại không có người thân ở bên đó thì làm sao mà chuyển về? Hãy an tâm nếu bạn cần gửi hàng từ Nhật về Việt Nam.
    Hãy để giao nhận 247 lo giúp bạn. Khi bạn cần mua hàng bên Nhật chẳng hạn. Thì cứ việc liên hệ với chúng tôi, chúng tôi sẽ mua giúp bạn món hàng ấy và vận chuyển về Việt Nam.
    Ngoài ra chúng tôi còn nhận chuyển hàng từ pháp về việt nam, gửi hàng từ mỹ, mua hàng trên amazon,...
    Ở trong nước thì chúng tôi còn nhận chuyển hàng từ việt nam đi đức, chuyển hàng đi úc, dịch vụ gửi đồ từ việt nam sang nhật. Còn rất nhiều dịch vụ khác đang chờ bạn dấy, hãy liên hệ để biết chi tiết nha.

  2. Chuyên mua bán các loại thực phẩm chức năng dành cho sức khỏe người dùng như đông trùng hạ thảo tenken, sâm alipas, Sâm angela, sữa rửa mặt neutrogena, thuốc bổ cho bà bầu elevit
    hay những sản phẩm bổ xung calcium+600mg+++d3.
    Ngoài ra chúng tôi còn giải đáp những thắc mắc về thuốc của các bạn thông qua những bài viết như: vigrx plus co tot khong,