View Full Version : NHS IT Debacle!

3rd Aug 2011, 08:19
This must go down as one of the world's biggest "failed" IT programmes/projects!

Will anyone be held to account? Will anybody learn anything from this?


NHS pulls the plug on its 11bn IT system - Health News, Health & Families - The Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/nhs-pulls-the-plug-on-its-11bn-it-system-2330906.html)

A plan to create the world's largest single civilian computer system linking all parts of the National Health Service is to be abandoned by the Government after running up billions of pounds in bills. Ministers are expected to announce next month that they are scrapping a central part of the much-delayed and hugely controversial 10-year National Programme for IT.

tony draper
3rd Aug 2011, 09:12
Someone should go to prison for these feckups, they just go on and on,nobody ever held responsible but of course there is one good thing about it,LESSONS WILL BE LEARNED.
Wonder how much of the wasted and lost seven billion was hoovered up by spiv consultants.

3rd Aug 2011, 09:20
A plan to create the world's largest single civilian computer system

I'd be surprised if the international telephone network wasn't bigger by far and that works. But then again that was designed by engineers not politicians.

3rd Aug 2011, 09:23
Hang a few of those that have made millions out of this FIASCO!!!
Might put some of the others off fiddling the NHS in the future.

glad rag
3rd Aug 2011, 10:18
It was announced on Tuesday, on the local radio, that a Dundee GP practice is to close this Friday, 4 days to try and get yourself signed up somewhere else or 1700 people without a GP....guess where all the moneys gone ^^^^^

3rd Aug 2011, 10:20
A LOVELY villa somewhere Exotic??

glad rag
3rd Aug 2011, 10:39
A LOVELY villa somewhere it doesn't RAIN might be more appropriate:}

3rd Aug 2011, 11:56
I worked in NHS IT in 1970 and the dream then was Standard Systems used by all . It didnt seem to work then!!

3rd Aug 2011, 11:57
Wonder how much of the wasted and lost seven billion was hoovered up by spiv consultants.

The same consultants who will now suggest that their insolvency/winding up departments organise the enforced redundancies for another billion squids?

The frightening thing about these projects is the politicians who dream them up and 'fund' them have too much emotional attachment - even those who inherit schemes see them as legacy project. HST from nowhere to nowhere, anyone?

Out with the tumbrels - I'll polish the wheels!

tony draper
3rd Aug 2011, 12:06
Read somwhere that all these buggad up expensive government puter system failures is not because of the hardware the puters the boxes monitors keyboards and such themselves but because of the bespoke software government departments insist they must have written for their whizbang new system,so instead of just buying off the shelf computers and off the shelf software that has worked perfectly well for years,they go for having very expensive new unproved bespoke software .
Of course they are probably advised to go this rout by the consultants.

3rd Aug 2011, 12:11
It was announced on Tuesday, on the local radio, that a Dundee GP practice is to close this Friday, ....guess where all the moneys gone ^^^^^

On Methadone, from what I've read!

Anyway, its only taxpayers money. Plenty more where that came from :mad:

3rd Aug 2011, 12:18
I have done independent reviews of some large Goverment IT Projects and its normally easy to spot those that are heading for trouble . The problems as Tony says arent with the technology as such but with the people controlling the Project . Departmental squables , commites that cant make decisions , poor financial control , uncontrolled spec changes etc .
Of course the Consultants happily take the money .

3rd Aug 2011, 12:52
The military used to be the same over IT - "Why buy perfectly good off the shelf solutions when a bolloxed up bespoke solution is available"..

My current G/F is a District Nurse, and she physically cannot attend to all of the patients she needs to during her day due to protracted lengths of time sitting and working with this infernal IT system.. she reckons it has doubled her administrative workload.


3rd Aug 2011, 12:57
The plug should have been pulled on this fiasco years ago. It will go down in history as a sad case study in how not to manage a programme. Of course people like Granger knew this but did nothing to, or could not convince, the spineless politicians that this was a runaway juggernaut and should be culled!

Boss of troubled 12bn NHS computer project quits - Times Online (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article1942900.ece)

In truth this wasn't a true death march... but it had similarities!

InformIT: What is a Death March Project and Why Do They Happen? > Death March Defined (http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=169512)

3rd Aug 2011, 14:48
I can't add anything that hasn't been said before, except for the thought that these projects are either intentionally designed to run the way they are/have for the creation of wealth for the IT bods and not to the benefit of the customer OR the industry attracts some of the most incompetent designers/project managers/support staff. As Herr Drapes said it should be a serious crime to deliver such balls-ups, especially on government run systems that serve the people. China deals pretty harshly with such persons and that might be the way to go in the UK.


3rd Aug 2011, 14:50
Unless I'm mistaken, this was not the first such attempt to create a working system.

3rd Aug 2011, 15:06
MUMPS - MUMPS - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mumps_compiler) - it lacked scalability but was a damned fine system devised and used by the medical profession.

The problem is that every politician feels he/she has the Midas touch. He/she has - Midas is generally vieweed as a bit of an arse.

3rd Aug 2011, 15:21
Piece in the news last week illustrating the extent to which the government routinely gets ripped off for I.T. equipment, sometimes paying up to 3000 for a pc.

simon brown
3rd Aug 2011, 17:47
"Piece in the news last week illustrating the extent to which the government routinely gets ripped off for I.T. equipment, sometimes paying up to 3000 for a pc."

And as long as the vast pit tax of payers money is spent on departments of incompetant people who have no sense of efficiency, no accumen when it comes to financial and business affairs, poor leadership and various political agenda, things wont change....

Dont they have audit departments counting the pennies?..think not.Do these people not pop in to PC world occasionally to know what a PC costs? Every newspaper and magazine has adds daily with PC deals in them...where do these people exist, the planet taxpayer subsidize?..

Besides they are probably too busy whinging about their copper bottomed final salary pension schemes to worry about where the money is coming from.....

3rd Aug 2011, 20:13
Dont they have audit departments counting the pennies?<Hollow laugh> Cf EU accounts for the last - what - 10? 12? 14? years. :ugh:

3rd Aug 2011, 20:41
I currently work for a company which has been burnt by the good ol NHS and their plans. As has been mentioned, uncontrolled spec changes run rampant not to mention their poor planning where the requirements are delivered a few weeks before the required deadline. We were recently forced to deliver a release which made the providers life hell and gives nothing back to the patient - except more paperwork. We were forced to a stupid delivery because an MP had said "It will be in by June" - but never delivered the requirements on time (and some are even outstanding)

Jokers, the lot of em.

3rd Aug 2011, 20:57
This problem has already been solved, apparently:-

Microsoft Amalga - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azyxxi)

From a book I was reading recently... when this system was introduced at Washington Health Centre, where it was developed, it:-

Quadrupled the information viewed by doctors per patient
Reduced by 25% the amount of time doctors spent searching for information
Doubled the amount of time doctors spent treating patients
Reduced average ER waiting time from eight hours to two hours
Doubled annual patient numbers
Improved patient "outcomes"
Made the doctors happier
Changed the Washington Health Centre ER from worst rated in the region to best rated within a few years

No wonder Microsoft bought it....

3rd Aug 2011, 21:00
My experience is that EVERY project has unrealistic deadlines and EVERY project runs on ridiculously tight profit margins and EVERY project is top priority - after a while you just smile and nod get on with it...

Maybe that's just business in general - although I think its worse when the senior people commissioning the projects fail to even remotely understand the complexity of what they are ordering and therefore expect it to be done much faster than is realistic. And then they keep changing the requirements after the project has started...

Of course I could give it all up and become a farmer... but somehow I think that would be worse.

tony draper
3rd Aug 2011, 21:16
Growing Turnips is a honest and honourable profession Mr G-C. :)

sea oxen
3rd Aug 2011, 22:12

You hit the nail on the head. There is too much emphasis on the 'big bang'. Whenever someone uses that term, I think of Hiroshima.

The growth of technology has to be organic - this allows priorities to be reassigned dynamically, rather than by the diktat of some knob with a Gullwing (true story). That Ministers are more or less bulletproof merely adds inertia to the process - forthcoming elections or reshuffles engender unnecessary haste.

An added burden is the albatross of political correctness and box ticking required within the NHS. These requirements must be put first, and place a Sisyphean task on the shoulders of someone who's trying to do his job.

The problem is that a monolith such as the NHS cannot be compared to private sector systems - they operate in different paradigms. The manpower required to assemble, analyse and prioritise the requirements for the entire system are beyond my ken. And who's the megabrain who'll assess that this comprehensive review has gone far enough? A party lackey? A postman?

Yes Minister.


3rd Aug 2011, 22:25
Who'd work in I.T? From my time in corporates, it seems to be a mugs game to me, endless demands on fixed resources. I've lost count of the times I've sat in I.T. reviews with everyone around the table baying for this & that.

I don't envy anyone in that world.

3rd Aug 2011, 23:02
Been there, done it!

Many years ago I introduced a relatively large IT system into a large company. As soon as we presented the project for management approval, we were told by the company "IT Gurus" exactly how they were going to do it and what "strategic products" they would be using.

Trouble is, they hadn't talked to us about what we wanted. So I invited them to give a presentation on the needs and plans. Not a clue had they, except that it would be large, and wonderful. I thanked them, and said I would be giving the business to the outside consultant firm I'd spoken to the week before.

I was told I was not allowed to outsource IT procurement, for reasons of security and confidentiality. I told them I would be outsourcing it precisely for reasons of security and confidence. It went to the outside firm, was launched ahead of time, and within budget.

Good firm, that. Got taken over by a bigger one, and so on.

5th Aug 2011, 14:29
you sound like a kindred spirit, rmcb!

I used to freelance as a MUMPS developer in the 70s/80s, mostly healthcare, and loved it

was at Wessex RHA (as was) on a MUMPS project at the same time as the RISP project (Regional Information Systems Plan) went south and 42m disappeared into thin air, chickenfeed now but big bucks then

lots of skullduggery went on apparently, not helped by spiv consultancy (allegedly) insisting on all unit hospitals having a big blue mainframe computer installed, most of which wasn't even unpacked from the shipping crates (when I was there)

that kit was old tech then, hugely overpriced, there was no software to run on it, and the consultants were mostly raw graduates with no clue as how to design/build/implement a viable computer application

you could weep at the profligate waste, but it just seems to keep happening...

6th Aug 2011, 07:36
You should try having to use it every day.
I actually enjoy going to work when the systems are "down." I can give better care to my patients.

6th Aug 2011, 07:39
Trouble is, they hadn't talked to us about what we wanted.

That, I am afraid, is the root of the issue.

6th Aug 2011, 11:35
An ex policeman of high seniority told me that the way they got computer systems to work was to take existing manual systems that worked and put them on the computer system, and DON'T try adding ANYTHING!