UK Health Program: a Very Sick Patient

UK Health Program: a Very Sick Patient

Summary: The National Health Service is in the middle of a massive ”£12bn IT programme designed to keep electronic records of 30 million NHS patients throughout the UK.” This program has been ongoing since 2002 and has been called the greatest IT disaster in history.

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TOPICS: Health, Software
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The National Health Service is in the middle of a massive ”£12bn IT programme designed to keep electronic records of 30 million NHS patients throughout the UK.” This program has been ongoing since 2002 and has been called the greatest IT disaster in history.

Here are the latest developments:

  • iSoft, a key software contributor, has been cited forapparent irregularities in its accounts.”
  • iSoft has also been cited in a review because the“issue of clinical safety under the current Isoft system as a ‘red’ problem. [The review] notes the firm has appointed a director of clinical safety in response to the concerns, but that he could not ‘articulate the time frames for establishing a clinical safety team given the current financial climate within Isoft’ - a reference to the company’s financial problems which have caused its share price to collapse.”
  • Accenture, a key contractor on the project, is prepared to resign. According to one analyst: ‘In essence, what Accenture is saying is “we want compensation because this thing isn’t going to plan, and it’s costing us a bomb.”
  • Apparently, the National Audit Office covered-up problems to make the program appear less disastrous.

It’s interesting to note that the inspiration for this program arose in 2001, after Bill Gates met Tony Blair: “Mr Gates, the billionaire software pioneer, had just written a book about how IT could transform economies. The prime minister, determined to reform Britain’s public services, was hooked.”

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Topics: Health, Software

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  • You wait ages for a failed IT project and then four come along at once

    The failure of an IT project in the National Health Service is one of a number of failures in information technology recently. Other disasters are to be found at the Child Support Agency, the Prison Service and then of course there's "Barmy" Blunkett's wonderful Identity Card. It is interesting to speculate that these teetering, elephantine projects might never have happened had Tony Blair never discussed the benefits of large scale data storage projects with Bill Gates, since Tony Blair knows nothing whatever about information technology and never showed any interest in it at all.

    The benefits of the proposed IT scheme in the Health Service were minimal -- to do with (a) passing data between specialists who collaborate closely anyway and (b) getting the case notes on a patient in an emergency. The first of these is adequately done by fax or email. The second doesn't work unless the patient has his CHI number on a bracelet or something, because patients taken to hospital in an emergency are often unconscious at the time. If the patient has to carry something, it might as well be a piece of paper giving his doctor's mobile number and a two-line summary of his condition.

    Lastly, to correct the impression given by your headline, the Health Service works very well, and gives British patients far better care than they would get in the United States.
    k.r.johnson