NPfIT: Still a disaster. Still a disaster in the same way

Remember this post on how the NHS National Programme for IT was doomed? Chatter is circulating that the whole thing might be scrapped, or at least subjected to a major review. Against this background, the big chief, Richard Granger, is leaving and has said some surprising things.

E-Health Insider reports; and it’s somewhat disturbing. Apparently, Cerner’s software is of shamefully awful quality:

“Sometimes we put in stuff that I’m just ashamed of. Some of the stuff that Cerner has put in recently is appalling.”

In June, of course, Granger had said that the Cerner package might be used system-wide after iSoft spread itself over the landscape in small pieces.

n December 2005 Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre became the first NHS site to go live with Cerner Millennium under the NHS IT programme. It has since suffered a string of problems ranging from missing appointment records, to inability to report on wait times. The Millennium system – now installed at six NHS locations in the South – remains unable to directly integrate with Choose and Book or meet 18-week reporting requirements.

In April, 79 members of staff from Milton Keynes NHS Trust signed a letter outlining their frustrations at the Millennium system, stating: “In our opinion the system should not be installed in any further hospitals….Speaking at the BMA’s annual representative meeting on 29 June Wrede said: “We should have a public inquiry. The people who made the original Cerner contract should be brought to book and as Cerner Millennium R0 [release zero] is not fit for purpose…” The motion calling for a public enquiry was passed.

The first Cerner installation by BT, the NPfIT contractor in London, is scheduled to go live at Barnet and Chase Farm NHS Trust within the next week. The trust is understood to be due to recieve the same release zero version of the Millennium software that has so far been used in the South.

Clearly it’s appalling, but not appalling enough to do anything about it. And why is it appalling?

He said a key reason for the failings of systems provided was that Cerner and prime contractor Fujitsu had not listened to end users. “It really isn’t usable because they have building a system with Fujitsu without listening to what end users want..”

Now there’s a surprise. But this problem has been well-known for the last 12 months! I blogged about it 9 months ago! Instead of anything useful, though, we get stuff like this triumph of managerialist crapspeak:

Granger also cast further light on Accenture’s departure from the NPfIT programme at the end of 2006, describing their relationship with sub-contractor iSoft as a failed marriage, in which they had failed to realise their co-dependency.

You what? More worrying, though, than this sort of vacuous cruft is the man’s continuing addiction to bully rhetoric and bully tactics:

“Who contributed evidence to the public accounts committees? For just about every figure quoted as an expert in this programme, I’ve got HR files on them. They generate a piece of opinion that often substantiates their world view.”

I don’t think the NHS is losing a great deal with his departure.


  1. Anonymous

    I met a guy who works for this company. I cannot repeat what he said, since he has a family to feed. But suffice to say he was deeply worried about the implications for safety of life. That was a few months ago.

    The whole thing is rotten to the core, and desperately needs to be scrapped. Now.




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