Feeds

NPfIT still failing to engage doctors

Haven't we been here before?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Yet another study of the UK Health Service's National Programme for IT has found that frontline staff, GPs, feel they have been left out of the planning and decision making processes. The study warns that the failure to engage with GPs has put the entire project at risk.

The report, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), found that staff felt demoralised and cut off from the planners at the project's headquarters. They also complained that communication with project managers has been extremely poor - both in terms of information shared, and local advice heeded.

The study quotes an IT manager at one of the trusts: "The communication has been appalling, absolutely appalling. They've done some wonderful events, and I've met some people who are great, NPfIT, who are very facilitative and very enabling, and the next week you're told you're not allowed to talk to them."

The chief executive of another trust said that there had been a real lack of engagement. The un-named chief exec went on: "I think we've been involved and been asked to promote something... - we say it's a bit like trying to go and sell, probably in IT terms, vapourware."

The researchers spoke to 23 senior staff in various departments within four acute health trusts. The trusts were chosen to reflect typical conditions - in terms of size, financial health etc - within the NHS.

Overall, they concluded that despite pumping extra cash into the project, the government has been unable to allay fears about the impact of centralising the NHS' IT systems. The researchers found uncertainty among staff about when NPfIT systems would be implemented in hospitals, and what funding would be provided locally.

The researchers also found cases where the project is actually hindering the improvement of the NHS service. They found that some existing IT systems, such as those in radiology and pathology, are in urgent need of updating. But because the NPfIT is being implemented in phases, those upgrades have been delayed, waiting for the NPfIT to catch up.

"Such delay may mean a risk of system failure, but buying a temporary solution is seen as costly", the researchers write.

But factors other than the technical come into play, and it is the socio-cultural side of things that the BMJ report found had been most neglected. The report describes these oft-called softer challenges as being "as daunting as the technical and logistical ones" and recommends that programme managers make dealing with this side of the project a priority.

This is not news to anyone who has been following the saga of the NPfIT, or Connecting for Health as it sometimes prefers to be known.

Back in January the National Audit Office warned that unless the NPfIT managed to engage frontline staff, the project was in danger of missing its deadlines, and going further over budget. Another survey, conducted by Medix in February found falling levels of support for the programme among GPs and consultants.

Doctors have been particularly concerned about the security of confidential patient information in the new system. Just two per cent of GPs think electronic records will be more secure than the current system.

At the time, the NPfIT said it had begun to address the lack of involvement of frontline staff, but that the Medix survey had taken place before this "has had the chance to penetrate at grass roots level". The same claim, surely, cannot still be made.

You can read the BMJ study here.

Related stories

London's NHS IT boss suspended
NHS chief cans patient control over health record access
NPfIT boss prepares to cut failing suppliers
GPs have no faith in £6bn NHS IT programme
Flagship NHS project in danger

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.