The British Computer Society (BCS) is backing calls for MPs to perform another review of the bungled IT systems at the NHS.
Much of the blame for the slipped deadlines, two years and counting, has been placed at the doorstep of iSoft and its Lorenzo software. iSoft reported a £344m loss recently and while it managed to raise new financing, it is being investigated by the FSA for possible breaches of accounting standards. Earlier this year iSoft’s two partners on the programme said Lorenzo had “no believable plan for releases” and Accenture is reportedly trying to resign from the programme after taking a $450m hit on costs and project over runs. If it does resign, it risks a £1bn penalty from central government.
Glyn Hayes, chairman of the BCS Health Forum, says the centralised database of patients’ details may be fundamentally unsuitable for a health service as large and complex as the NHS. The better option he suggests is localised control and choice. Others suggested that same approach from day one but were over-ruled by more ambitious voices in Whitehall.
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There are clear rules, guidelines and precedents for effective IT and supplier selection; for ongoing project management and budget control; and for good governance. As things stand, it’s difficult to see them at play in the NHS.
Appallingly, no one is taking responsibility for this state of affairs. The NHS head of IT, Richard Granger, is right to argue that there has been enormous progress in some areas of the NHS. He is entitled to take full credit for those achievements and full responsibility for the rest.
Politically inspired from the beginning, with all the inherent short-term thinking that implies, personal reputations in Whitehall are taking precedence over the effective health of NHS IT. There is a driving need for radical change.
On a much happier note, you’ll have noticed from our front cover that MIS is undergoing a few changes of its own. The UK business, including our research and data divisions, has been acquired by IDG.
We’re in the process of getting to know our new parents, and they us. We want to take all our readers and clients with us and the next few months will see a steady transition to the IDG stable and launch of CIO magazine.
We’ve run many features on M&As – how to do them successfully and avoid their associated pitfalls – and as one reader remarked waspishly, we’re now in the interesting position of being our own case study. We’ll keep you informed on our progress but IDG has handled the acquisition with tact and sensitivity, which bodes well for the future of the business and people.
Your suggestions will continue to guide the development of this magazine so do keep sending emails and comments, waspish or otherwise. In a period of change, your views are more important than ever.
Editor, MIS/CIO UK