Monday, December 7, 2009

Alistair Darling, Are You Serious?

On the BBC's Andrew Marr show yesterday, Alistair Darling appeared to announce the cancellation of the NHS Connecting for Health IT program. He just slid it into the conversation without further reference. His reasoning was: "because it isn't critical to delivering front line services". I know that the CfH program is flawed, but this is monumental stupidity. A good IT system will give you control, improve accuracy, reduce waste, and increase productivity; in the case of the NHS, this means more time spent on treating patients. I believe that universal healthcare is essential to any civilised country, but I fear that without the implementation of new digital technologies the NHS will not be able to deliver this in the 21st century. And that's a problem for all of us.


  1. I agree that modern IT systems are essential for the NHS in delivering efficient, effective healthcare.

    It's not the first time that the Government have commissioned software/ IT from big companies for vastly expensive sums that result in delivery of faulty, sub-standard products (E.g. Working tax credits system)

    How much blame should go to the companies creating the software? They set the initial budgets and deadlines etc. so why does cost and delivery spiral out of control?

    Or are they just milking huge government budgets?

  2. I think there's a bit of blame to fall at the IT companies (some of them anyway) but most on the public sector.

    The large pots of money that public sector organisations have, does attract alot of unscrupulous software providers, who have the gift of the gab to sell, but deliver their customisable off-the-shelf product, that isnt as customisable as was first thought, and generally isn't very good.

    However, from past experience, I think some public sector organisations are all too quick to pick a product based on "well, xxxx trust has it, so it'll be fine for us" without bothering to spend enough time consulting with all relevant parties before making a decision.

    Then there is the general lack of cooperation from staff when any change is required, especially if it involves anything "I.T".

    Then of course throw in the public sector culture of "if we dont spend every penny of our budget this year, it will be reduced next year", and some public sector organisations are willing to blow their budget on anything as long as a vendor approaches them at the right time of year, and can promise to have the final invoice through in time.

    In general, I think if it was their money they were spending, public sector would get the most out of every penny.