Feeds

NHS IT: what went wrong, what will go wrong

We draw up a handy list of excuses for civil servants

High performance access to file storage

This week Fujitsu pulled out of the £12.7bn National Programme for IT - the government's enormous project to introduce national patient records for NHS patients leaving BT, CSC and iSoft still involved.

How bad must things be for a company to walk away from just under £1bn of government money? And why are we writing yet another story about a government IT project heading inexorably for the rocks taking billions of pounds of taxpayers' money with it? This has happened so many times, and no doubt will again. We all know what the lessons are but for some reason government and civil servants seem unable to listen to even the simplest lessons from past failures.

When the project was started we were told that the use of several contractors meant that competition would drive down prices and the civil service would keep control of costs.

Now that there are only two contractors left for the south of England they can effectively dictate terms to Connecting for Health - the body charged with running the scheme.

One of the core problems of government IT projects - that no one individual is ever in charge - was supposed to be solved by the appointment of Richard Granger as director general. He left at the end of January, ground down and exhausted according to some.

So was the project doomed from the start or was a decently specified project kyboshed by greedy contractors and incompetent civil servants?

Start small

Simon Williams, director of independent consultancy DMW Group, said: "The idea of controlling risk by using several suppliers sounds good but with a shrinking list of suppliers it doesn't work. They should have started small - run a project in one or two small regions with one hospital and two or three GP surgeries in each. Run a prototype project, prove the functionality and show the staff the benefits of it - it is a simple and well trodden route for big projects." The project also failed to consult doctors and nurses who would be using the system, he said.

Williams added that having proved a small scale project works it can, if necessary, be handed over to a bigger supplier to roll-out nationally, once the functionality has been proved.

Martyn Hart, chairman of the National Outsourcing Association, was unsurprised at the problems and questioned whether there was even a need for a national programme. He said Granger gave a talk to the NOA several years ago and the audience was asked afterwards if they thought it would succeed - not a lot of hands went up.

Hart said: "If I live in south London how many times will I need my health records to be sent somewhere else? How many times does that really happen? And even if it does happen then data exchange is old hat - you need some agreement on formats and standards not necessarily a nationwide system."

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.