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£20bn NHS computer programme wont work

#1
Just had a moan at my IT Support Manager because we lost access to all remote drives. His response was that I should count myself lucky not to work for the NHS. He bailed out of working on this project last year because he simply did not want to be looking for a new job with a known disaster project on his CV:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23385317-details/Expert%20warns%20%C3%BD%C3%BD20bn%20NHS%20computer%20programme%20'won't%20work'/article.do

A senior executive at technology giant Fujitsu said the troubled project - the biggest civilian programme of its kind in the world - was also in danger of becoming a "camel" rather than a "racehorse".
In a damning indictment of the scheme, Andrew Rollerson, a senior healthcare consultant at the firm, said: "What we are trying to do is run an enormous programme with the techniques that we are absolutely familiar with for running small projects.

"And it isn't working. And it isn't going to work."

He added the idea that the IT project - which aims to provide electronic health records for 50 million people - will transform patient care could not be "further from the truth".


Why is this Government so wedded to mega-IT projects?
 
#2
I used to work for Fujitsu myself. The real problem with these things is that senior career civil servants and government officials are CONSTANTLY changing their fcuking minds, feeling the need to make their mark on the project. Almost invariably, these people know fcuk all about how major systems work, and therefore have unrealistic and frequently impossible expectations.
 
#3
150 years ago, the government was similarly criticised for investing huge sums in developing sewers. Big capital projects, dubious business case, unproven construction methods.

Roll onto 2007, and we've got a public sector that uses the same methods to run itself as it did in the 1850's. If I want to send a picture to you - its a piece of p*ss - I've got broadband. If a hospital wants to send MRI imagery to a specialist unit for interpretation it takes hours or days, via courier or post.

Building 21st century infrastructure is horrifically expensive, likely to take longer than originally agreed, and upset lots of people who will have to change outdated working practices. Doing lots of small piecemeal projects is a non-starter as its likely to cost more, take longer, and fail to meet the needs of the NHS for a homogenous service that is of an equal standard across England and Wales.

Oh, and SauceDoctor, you are absolutely right. The feckers change their mind every 2 minutes and kick off when its suggested that private sector companies might have the audacity to make a profit from the deal... IBM Global Services, one of the best Systems Integrators, deliberately did not bid for any of the NPFiT contracts (thus depriving the competition of a very effective bidder), because they saw the contracts as too risky...
 
#5
SauceDoctor said:
I used to work for Fujitsu myself. The real problem with these things is that senior career civil servants and government officials are CONSTANTLY changing their fcuking minds, feeling the need to make their mark on the project. Almost invariably, these people know fcuk all about how major systems work, and therefore have unrealistic and frequently impossible expectations.
Your'e preaching to the choir here Brother. Some of 'em don't even know what you can do with a standalone PC.

We had a problem in my office about gathering statistics on outstanding items in a BF diary system. I describes a simple flat table Data base as a possible solution. The manager in charge of liaising with the IT guys says "Can you really do that with a computer."

A few weeks later I overhear two of the Systems Analysts with whose company she is liaising (we were upgrading) whispering to each other in amazement " They write everything down!"
 
#7
Just you wait whilst all of the off-shoring birds come home to roost. The Indian IT industry has expanded so quickly that they are employing guys with feck all experience at all and really haven't a clue. It is rather like asking a newly qualified doctor to perform neuro-surgery. The patient will die but, hey, the operation was cheap. I work with a company that is heavily involved in the catastrophic NHS project and can see all the shit code & non-existent testing that is coming back from off-shore. A simple example will suffice: A piece of software which had come back from off-shore allowed a date of August 99 (and we are refering to the day of the month here ...)
 
#8
He he, sounds familar. I work in the private sector and am contracted to a well known supermarket that uses off shore developers. The quality of stuff that comes back is often shocking as are their adherance to ITIL standards.

Just as you find a decent developer amongst them he/she will disapear to another project and you are stuck with inexperienced mongs again.

Some of the project team leaders are also just as bad, trying to push through the release of untested code on systems that are already full of bugs.

From what I have heard of the public sector all I can say is thank feck I don't work there!
 
#9
unixman said:
Just you wait whilst all of the off-shoring birds come home to roost. The Indian IT industry has expanded so quickly that they are employing guys with feck all experience at all and really haven't a clue. It is rather like asking a newly qualified doctor to perform neuro-surgery. The patient will die but, hey, the operation was cheap. I work with a company that is heavily involved in the catastrophic NHS project and can see all the s*** code & non-existent testing that is coming back from off-shore. A simple example will suffice: A piece of software which had come back from off-shore allowed a date of August 99 (and we are refering to the day of the month here ...)
Erm boss minor, Do you work on Sovereign street? (The spine was outsourced !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I also work in medical informatics, we also tried outsourcing but have since replaced their code (failed for the reasons you mentioned).

Was discussing CfH this weekend, seems like even subvisions of the NHS are struggling to communicate IT/IS requirements, so how on earth can the main part of it come to agreement? Its far too complex, with far too many people involved. It should have started with limited objectives like Data Interchange via HL7 and then built up the system. Definitely not jumb in with both feet first.
This was happening in the industry beforehand, NPfIT/CfH just delayed it.

Oh well, just aswell another similar project doesn't go live shortly.
 
#10
Some time ago, I worked for one of the conractors working on the NHS project. One of the managers stated that all of the records for the London area would be stored on a massive server in a single building.

"What happens if you have an outage? A fire in the data centre or a visit from Al-Qaeda" asked one of the developers.

The manager stated that the recovery plan enabled them to fail over to another data centre within a few days. "Of course, all the A&E departments in London would have to close during this period.", he added.

In the NHS, the lunatics have truly taken over the asylum. I'll be asking my GP not to put my records on the new computer.
 
#11
Ancient_Mariner said:
"What happens if you have an outage? A fire in the data centre or a visit from Al-Qaeda" asked one of the developers.
Its not just that see

Getting hospital data to connect to the NHS 'spine'

Another, dramatically illustrated last week, is that centralising technology creates a central risk of failure. Despite supposed state-of-the-art disaster recovery procedures, contractors' data centres serving the NHS in the West Midlands and North West England failed, forcing hospitals like Birmingham to revert to paper-based administration. This is why the West Midlands is no longer quite the showcase that it was.
and NHS suffering from broken spine

NHS sites experienced acute spine problems in the week before Christmas, resulting in key systems being unavailable to NHS staff, and other sites having their access suspended.
 
#14
Ulster_Rifleman said:
Legion_n_aire said:
Too many managers and a place becomes unmanageable. It's about time the NHS was privatised.
Naw, fire the managers & hand it back to the doctors, the way it used to be.

And maybe it should have Matrons again
On the very few occasions I have requested a doctor's visit from my local surgery since returning to the Uk I have only ever been offered the services of a nurse - not that I have any complaints about the service offered. I have been assured that the surgery does employ doctors too!!!
The fact is, putting filppancy aside, the health service provided by the state sponsered system within the UK is completely inferior to that offered by our brothers across the channel - I have lived in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland (and Australia): in each case the medical services offered to the average resident in terms of attendance times, local technology and waiting lists was far superior to what can be expected here. This isn't a criticism of the NHS - as a percent of GDP it does a great job - I just think it needs more money pumped into it - even if that means partial privatisation.
 
#15
Ulster_Rifleman said:
Legion_n_aire said:
Too many managers and a place becomes unmanageable. It's about time the NHS was privatised.
Naw, fire the managers & hand it back to the doctors, the way it used to be.

And maybe it should have Matrons again
Fecking doctors you must be joking, these are the premadonnas who earn 6 figure salaries and then want Friday afternoons off to run their private practice.

One of the reasons the NHS is in sh1te state is half the money being pumped into it paid for their new contracts and the Gov, does not have the gonads to tell them who is in charge

Half of Drs cant even write their name clearly and think they are too important to have to, do you want them running things?

Did you catch the recent TV prog where a trouble shooter went into a NHS Trust?

NHS managers are an easy target, have a look at the DOH and other Gov bodies awarding contracts to the usual suspects, who conveniently also contribute to the labliar party.

Also look into how many chief execs at Trusts "retire" and then pop up as management advisors at the same companies

Get real and don't swallow the propaganda of the Drs being heroes, managers being crap, private sector being perfect and the Gov. not to blame.
 
#16
Fiji_Bob said:
Ulster_Rifleman said:
Legion_n_aire said:
Too many managers and a place becomes unmanageable. It's about time the NHS was privatised.
Naw, fire the managers & hand it back to the doctors, the way it used to be.

And maybe it should have Matrons again
Fecking doctors you must be joking, these are the premadonnas who earn 6 figure salaries and then want Friday afternoons off to run their private practice.

One of the reasons the NHS is in sh1te state is half the money being pumped into it paid for their new contracts and the Gov, does not have the gonads to tell them who is in charge

Half of Drs cant even write their name clearly and think they are too important to have to, do you want them running things?

Did you catch the recent TV prog where a trouble shooter went into a NHS Trust?

NHS managers are an easy target, have a look at the DOH and other Gov bodies awarding contracts to the usual suspects, who conveniently also contribute to the labliar party.

Also look into how many chief execs at Trusts "retire" and then pop up as management advisors at the same companies

Get real and don't swallow the propaganda of the Drs being heroes, managers being crap, private sector being perfect and the Gov. not to blame.
A very interesting view point: there is not doubt about it however: the swiss system of medical, social, military,security, political level of interpersonal integration is very advanced - i mean extremely advanced. On the other hand, I have been there and experienced this state of experience so maybe am a bit biased. But hey - to be able to provide these alternate view angles was part of why i travelled in the first place.
 
#18
Working on the assumption that the Gov't has used the same sums with DII as it has for the NHS ie the original £2.5 Billion turns into £20 Billion. DII will cost the MOD somewhere in the region £100 Billion over 10 years. Wonder how many aircraft Carriers, AFV's and body armour we could have bought with that! Thats one expensive game of solitiare!
 
#19
Baldrick66 said:
Working on the assumption that the Gov't has used the same sums with DII as it has for the NHS ie the original £2.5 Billion turns into £20 Billion.
Wouldn't it be better to compare the NHS NPfIT/CfH project with the MOD/DMS DMICP project (announced last year), will it suffer the same problems?
 
#20
polar said:
Baldrick66 said:
Working on the assumption that the Gov't has used the same sums with DII as it has for the NHS ie the original £2.5 Billion turns into £20 Billion.
Wouldn't it be better to compare the NHS NPfIT/CfH project with the MOD/DMS DMICP project (announced last year), will it suffer the same problems?
From my understanding I thought it already was/is!
 

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