The Cost of Doing Nothing – in IT

From LRB comes Paul Taylor’s take on what has led up to the problems with NHS IT systems – the malware attack last Friday was a symptom of a far more complex and concerning issue.

Successive governments have spent billions without success. 

“There are no good news stories about computers and the NHS. The reporting of Friday’s malware attack may, however, be usefully different from the typical bad news story, in which hubristic politicians or nameless bureaucrats waste millions, if not billions, of public funds on projects which go over budget, fail to deliver, prove to be unusable or collapse under pressure. In this instance it seems that, for once, inaction and underinvestment have led to something sufficiently focused to be newsworthy, showing that there can be a political as well as a human cost to doing nothing.

For most of the 21st century, the story of NHS IT has been the slow unravelling of New Labour’s ambitions for the transformation of public services. In February 2002, Tony Blair committed his government to a programme that was supposed to take the NHS, in two years, from being largely paper-based to having a seamless IT architecture, enabling a new generation of consumer-friendly digital health services. The mistakes that were made in the pursuit of this vision, which became known as the National Programme for IT, have had devastating consequences for those whose care was supported by NHS IT systems over the last 15 years.

The government entered into huge contracts with large corporations that promised to supply systems they couldn’t engineer, and for which the NHS couldn’t specify the requirements…..”

Full article at LRB

%d bloggers like this: