fail

Quietly, as the election campaign goes on, the NHS IT programme has gone from “heading for the rocks” to “sailing into the cliff”. Has NPfIT put us back 10 years? asks the NHS chief in Rotherham, who’s taken the recently announced option to bail out of the project and deploy something of his own choice. He’s also chosen to do a soft-launch rather than a monster all-or-nothing go-live – so he’s probably worth listening to.

A key problem, apparently, is a lack of the right skills – people have simply drifted away from the project as the reek of zombiedom has become ever more intense. It’s somehow awe-inspiring that it was possible to spend £12bn without attracting hordes of the talented and the merely opportunistic.

The guy who got out earlier – the Paul Allen figure – speaks, and says that the project was doomed because the clinicians didn’t support it. Where have we heard that before?

A safety critical bug emerges.

Some areas have suspended uploading patient data to the Big DB; weirdly, it turns out that the official business case for the summary care records was never approved.

Even weirder, many of the trusts that sent out letters to millions of people, red-alerting NO2ID into action, weren’t actually planning to upload – they just did it because some budget became available for publicity, and hey! budget! Thus accidentally throwing a giant NO2ID demo at the taxpayers’ expense.


  1. There’s actually a very large literature on healthcare systems, much of it from the Scandinavian countries (they’ve got a lot of experience, and do it fairly well). If you were to pick the absolute worse way to try and implement such a project, this was it. My PhD supervisor, herself an expert on healthcare IT, was working as a consultant when the call for tenders came out. She it read and said to the company she was working for – run far away from this thing…

    As an HCI person myself I still can’t get over the fact that they deliberately excluded clinical staff from the design process. I can’t quite work out if this is control-wankery, a misguided desire to reduce costs by reducing conflict up-front, or merely sheer stupidity.

    Though its possible that what you’re seeing is political ideology etched onto technology (very Bruno Latour). This government really doesn’t trust workers, and we’ve seen yet another example of where that leads.




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