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UK Govt throws £500m at NHS Net dream

A fully operational computer system by 2005. Yeah, right

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The Department of Health has said it will pump £533 million into getting the NHS all networked-up by 2005. Something it seems to believe it will achieve.

The big dream is that doctors, hospitals and clients will all have access to a glorious health computer system with resulting savings in time, money and effort. The Secretary of State for Health, Alan Milburn, gave a prepared statement to the effect that all involved in the health service will use all modern technology available (email, digital TV and the like) to make everyone's lives easier (and healthier).

We applaud the motives behind the plan and think that it is a great idea. We also know that the government is serious about it and has been pulling NHS managers into new admissions and patient administration projects that will rebuild the current, antiquated system. But it'll never be done by 2005, which will mean that managers will again spent too much time fudging performance figures and not enough get the system right.

The NHS hasn't got a bleedin' clue about computers. Most doctors don't even touch a PC unless they have to and the vast array of different computers, terminals, servers, what-have-you throughout the service is a networker's nightmare. Hospital Web sites are a sham and email and the Internet is alien to just about everyone that works in the NHS.

The money isn't enough either. Plus most of it will get eaten up on the way to a finished project. And we haven't even mentioned the frankly illegal patient database that the NHS is compiling without patients' consent. Still, with the Data Protection Act, you may be able to get your own details almost as fast as the insurance companies.

All sounds a bit depressing, don't it? Don't worry - it's just an average day in the NHS. ®

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