Monday, August 09, 2004

Computer Weekly on NHS IT Project

Written on 21st July 2004:

Dear Aidan & Richard,

Here is the first article about the NHS IT Project from Computer Weekly. Richard Bacon appears to be keen to stir up a fuss about this:
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Publication:CWE; Date:Jul 20, 2004; Section:This Week; Page:4
NHS IT

Chancellor tells Parliament NHS programme will not be a ‘fiasco’

NHS IT WATCH

Tony Collins tony.collins@rbi.co.uk

The chancellor Gordon Brown has defended the NHS national programmefor IT after an MP asked him whether it was likely to be a multi billion-pound fiasco.

During a debate in the House of Commons last week, MP Richard Bacon,who sits on the Public Accounts Committee, quoted to Brown an article in a doctors’ magazine which said the national programme was “more likely to be a fiasco than the Dome”.

Bacon then referred to the £6bn worth of contracts signed between the government and a handful of local and national service providers. He asked Brown if he “should not be rather worried that the Department ofHealth is about to squander £6bn?”

In reply, Brown said that before Bacon pronounces that the programme is not working, “he should look at the evidence of all the efforts that have been made to ensure that it does”.
The national plan consists of four projects: a system for electronic medical records, a means of booking hospital appointments, a broad band infrastructure and e-prescriptions. The first systems were due to go live at the end of June, but firm evidence of this has not yet emerged.
Brown said a great deal of work has been done in setting up an extensive IT programme. “The NHS uses more IT than any organisation outside Nasa. It is therefore very important it is right.
“New people have been brought in and the whole system has to be modernised. It is important that electronic records can be properly developed and that nurses and GPs’ surgeries can be in regular contact with hospitals.

He added, “It is in all our interests that the programme works.”

After the debate, Bacon criticised Brown’s assurances for being vague.
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Brown appears to be saying that, as long as we all want it badly enough, everything will be alright.

All that has been done so far is that they have spent two years doling out contracts to suppliers. The small detail of actually figuring outwhat the requirements are, in any useful detail, appears to have eluded them!

I will keep you posted with short articles as things unfold. In theUniversal Scenario of Project failure, this project is somewhere between Feeding Frenzy and Party Time :-)

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