NHS Trusts in the dark over CfH licence transfer
Please shed light on our software budgets
Local NHS Trusts are still waiting to receive licensing allocation from Connecting for Health to budget for software procurement.
They are refusing to sign off new purchase orders with resellers, a year after the coalition binned its enterprise-wide agreement with Microsoft.
The three-year £80m EWA was not renewed in June last year after the coalition could not agree on a price with the software giant and decided to devolve centralised purchasing power from CfH, leaving individual authorities also responsible for compliance.
The benefit is that Trusts are in charge of their own software usage, paying for applications they need, but by breaking the agreement into different component parts each trust will inevitably pay more to Microsoft, with some resellers estimating a hike.
The process of dividing licensing allocation and the resulting capital budgets between more than 500 Trusts in England and Wales, covered by the previous agreement, had proved to be a complex task for CfH, say sources close to the situation.
"Trusts are not buying," said one reseller. "Clearly they need to maintain coverage for the software they have… but if they want grow the headcount, newer versions that only recently became available or different technologies from Microsoft, they have to buy it."
Others agreed that until Trusts could ascertain the impact of additional licences on their profit and loss accounts, they were keeping their wallets wedged in their pockets. "There is a stalemate."
Microsoft audited NHS Trusts in the second half of 2010 following the cessation of the EWA with two true-ups - one in June and one in December - and channel insiders reckon the software lynchpin is using the ending of the EWA to "make more money".
"With the centralised deal broken into multiple agreements, Trusts are looking at price rises in the region of 10 per cent," claimed one insider.
Connecting for Health is the delivery arm for the Department for Health's Informatics Directory.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the DfH said: "The licences from the former NHS Microsoft Enterprise Agreement remain centrally held.
"Trusts have been advised of their individual licence allocations from this agreement and are responsible for ensuring that this allocation, along with any other agreements they have, licenses their estate appropriately."
Microsoft refused to comment. ®
Cretins from Hell
That was the term for CfH round our neck of the NHS. There are more fingers in that pie than there is pie. At least there were at the time that I escaped the NHS in disgust at a body that could spend literally millions on a piss-poor web-application that was supposed to show our practice's target results to us for payments, but couldn't even add up the numbers correctly.
The problem isn't Microsoft. Sure, they're more expensive than if you put Open Office in place, but you could use pen and paper and it would still cost a fortune by the time it had been through the upper levels of the NHS. I had the misfortune of sitting in a procurement meeting for an IT support company for our PCT. They spent literally four times what it would cost to hire an entirely new and extra IT support person working in house, on an outside company that did nothing but take calls and then pass them back to our own IT support staff. During the roll out of "The Spine", we had a bod turn up at our practice who was a freelancer, hired by an agency, who was leased to a "freelancing company" who then leased him to ATOS to go round the practices and check if computers were up to spec for the new software. Four levels of profit skimming for a guy whose IT skills were barely capable of checking the processor and ram on a PC which was the extent of his job.
It's frustrating because there are so many people working so hard at the bottom of the NHS, and there are so many bastards at the highest levels skimming money out of it. I still have friends at the PCT level working like crazy to try and save the NHS from the likes of Blair and Cameron.
I could save the NHS literally hundreds of millions if I were just allowed to shoot selected people at the top. The NHS is worth saving, but the DOH needs a good purging.
Who cares about Microsoft? It's our money!
I'm sure that 90% of users are just using the basic features of MS Office, and would hardly notice if it was replaced by LibreOffice.
That should add up to a big fat saving.
Now to try and get them all off IE6...
Tied into to MS
The specs for connecting to the NHS spine, which where worked out with partners including MS, insist that the machines are running windows. So that's linux ruled out there, in my experience the PCT's could all switch to Chrome without losing any functionality as they appear unable to send out word documents without gratuitous spelling mistakes and formatting errors so are shying away from anything complicated.