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IT disasters

IT disasters- more news of Labour’s terrible track record on expensive technological failures:

Labour’s computer blunders cost £26bn- and rising
Mon, 25 Jan 2010- Labour ministers blamed for ‘stupendous incompetence’ after taxpayers are left with huge bills for bungled IT projects.

Labours’ only success- wasting taxpayers money
Mon, 18 Jan 2010- Health Direct is appalled at the expensive IT project that is the NPfIT white elephant- and the money that is being wasted in our names.

GPs to get new IT in drive to prevent 10,000 cancer deaths
Tue, 12 Jan 2010- GPs are to start predicting whether a patient has the early symptoms of cancer using a computer program that calculates risk, under plans to prevent the 10,000 unnecessary deaths a year caused by late diagnosis

Government departments waste £4m on website redesigns
Wed, 30 Dec 2009- Labour government departments have spent £4 million of public money revamping their existing websites over the past two and a half years

Your medical confidentiality under threat again
Wed, 16 Dec 2009- Despite labour’s promises to the contrary- their track record on snooping databases is appalling.

Turmoil over NHS records scheme as labour cuts NPfIT to save cash
Mon, 7 Dec 2009- The world’s biggest civilian IT project was thrown into turmoil yesterday after Alistair Darling, the labour chancellor, implied that it was going to be scrapped.

Website for patient waiting times is virtually useless
Thu, 3 Dec 2009- Patients are being given out of date information by a flagship government scheme designed to reduce waiting times for hospital treatment.

Labour blows more money on websites as patients urged to rate GPs online
Fri, 16 Oct 2009- Patients will be able to praise or criticise their doctor on a health website- but the nanny state will not allow us to actually name the person.

Child vetting database will cost £200 million and create 1,450 jobs in Labour marginal
Wed, 16 Sep 2009- The total cost of the child vetting scheme is expected to soar close to £200 million – and will lead to the creation of around 1,450 jobs in a key Labour marginal constituency.

NHS IT project still on critical list
Fri, 4 Sep 2009- “If you live in Birmingham,” declared Tony Bliar when he was UK prime minister, “and you have an accident while you are, for example, in Bradford, it should be possible for your records to be instantly available to the doctors treating you.” Not any more.

Want your NHS records to stay private? Good luck
Thu, 27 Aug 2009- If you don’t want your health records stored online, you may have some trouble finding the ‘opt out’ option, however Health Direct will help you.

Swine flu helpline hit by problems
Fri, 24 Jul 2009- The launch of the national pandemic flu service for England yesterday was marred by some early hiccups as the number of the country’s swine flu cases was estimated to have almost doubled in a week from 55,000 to 100,000.

Ethics could sink Tory plan for Google or Microsoft health records
Tue, 14 Jul 2009- The plan to transfer confidential medical records to internet servers run by companies such as Google and Microsoft is anything but straightforward.

Patient records should be given to Microsoft or Google, say Tories
Tue, 7 Jul 2009- NHS patient records would be outsourced to Microsoft or Google under Tory plans, instead of being held on an expensive, flawed central government database.

Warnings ignored over NHS IT system in 2002
Thu, 2 Jul 2009- Whitehall officials warned repeatedly in private that the NHS information technology programme (NPfIT) would run into serious problems as early as 2002, according to freedom of information requests.

Reverse e-auctions an invitation to cut standards
Fri, 26 Jun 2009- One company boss who took part in the London Procurement Programme’s reverse e-auctions in May called them depressing.

Elderly suffer after reverse e-auctions for home care
Wed, Jun 17, 2009- Labour NHS IT reverse auctions reduce dignity and care for elderly

Elderly left at risk by NHS bidding wars to find cheapest care with reverse auctions
Wed, Jun 10, 2009- An online auction system developed for councils to buy cheap wheelie bins and stationery is being used to buy end of life and dementia care for vulnerable elderly people.

Children’s database launched amid safety leak concerns
Thu, Jun 4, 2009- A database with details on every child in England began operating recently, amid criticisms that the labour government cannot be trusted to amass large amounts of information without it falling into the wrong hands.

NHS told to tighten data security by watchdog
Fri, May 29, 2009- The information commissioner has told the NHS to improve its data security, after breaches involving the loss of thousands of personal medical records. The losses were described as a cause of “great concern”.

Pressure mounts on NHS patient e-records NPfIT white elephant scheme
Fri, May 8, 2009- The main suppliers to the stalled £12.7bn National Health Service’s NPfIT programme to create an electronic record of patients’ records have been given until the end of November to demonstrate real progress in installing the systems in big acute ­hospitals.

Hospital death rates to be published on NHS Choices website
Fri, Apr 24, 2009- NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh has instructed the website NHS Choices to publish each hospital trust’s overall death rate.

Labour’s health databases will break the law
Tue, Mar 24, 2009- The NHS detailed care record and the secondary uses service are among two public sector databases deemed “almost certainly illegal” in a report by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

NHS Choices website spending attacked
Tue, Mar 17, 2009- Millions of pounds of labour government investment in an NHS Choices website was criticised last week for threatening to stifle independent services that appear to do a better job at less cost.

Department of Health told to improve record management
Wed, Mar 11, 2009- The Information Commissioner’s Office is seeking significant improvements in the way the Department of Health manages and retains its records

Hospital’s IT network computer virus crash was entirely avoidable
Tue, Feb 10, 2009- A review into how a computer virus was able to cripple a hospital’s IT network has concluded the incident was “entirely avoidable”.

NHS trust considers abandoning NPfIT electronic records fiasco
Wed, Feb 04, 2009- An NHS trust is considering ditching its new electronic patient record software in order to revert to its 20 year old system, in a move that underlines the troubles faced by the world’s biggest IT project.

Your health records- open to all in new labour data disaster
Mon, Jan 26, 2009- NO2ID and Health Direct has been warning since 2006/7 about the stated intentions of the labour government “to overcome current barriers to information sharing within the public sector”

NHS Data losses an accident waiting to happen
Thu, Nov 27, 2008- Technology used by public authorities made data security breaches “an accident waiting to happen”, a privacy official warned.

NHS Direct shelves foundation trust plans
Thu, Nov 13, 2008- NHS Direct has put its plans to become a foundation trust on ice. The decision follows labour government reluctance to free the national service from central statist control.

Ailing NHS IT white elephant project takes turn for worse
Tues, Nov 4, 2008- At the turn of the year, it looked as though the troubled NHS IT (NPfIT) programme to create an electronic patient record might finally be turning a corner.

NHS records NPfIT project grinds to halt
Thu, Oct 30, 2008- Progress on the £12bn computer programme (NPfIT) designed to give doctors instant access to patients’ records across the country has virtually ground to a halt, raising questions about whether the world’s biggest civil information technology project will ever be finished.

Patients at risk from flawed £12bn NPfIT IT system
Mon, Oct 6, 2008- The NHS computer system (NPfIT) intended to revolutionise patient care has so many software flaws that seriously ill or badly injured patients are at risk of being inaccurately diagnosed, according to an internal health service document.

Private companies get access to millions of NHS medical records
Mon, Sep 29, 2008- The confidential medical records of millions of NHS patients could be handed over to private companies under controversial plans being drawn up by labour ministers.

NHS appoints new IT supremos
Fri, Sep 26, 2008- The health department has finally appointed replacements for Richard Granger, the National Health Service’s IT supremo, some six months after his departure as head of Connecting for Health, the white elephant health service programme that aims to create an electronic patient record system.

Labour U Turn on medical data- NPfIT medical records a step closer
Mon, Sep 22, 2008- After another labour U turn the national electronic record of patients’ health (NPfIT) looks finally on the cards – five years late – after the NHS IT programme on Thursday changed the way patients will give their consent to the system.

NHS Choices £80m price tag- another IT disaster?
Wed, Aug 06, 2008- NHS Choices website- more bad news. Health Direct posts NHS has signed another massive IT contract, this time an £80m deal to create the biggest, most erudite, cradle-to-grave healthcare website in the world. Ever.

30,000 NHS records lost as seven laptops stolen
Mon, Jul 21, 2008- Laptops containing the personal details of more than 30,000 NHS patients have been stolen in two separate thefts- one of which was not encrypted.

Relapse for NPfIT white elephant records system
Thu, Jun 26, 2008- Just when the National Health Service’s mighty and troubled £12.7bn programme to provide every patient in England with an electronic record looked as though it might be about to turn an important corner, it has skidded off the road again.

NHS NPfIT white elephant hit as Fujitsu fired from IT project
Tue, June 24, 2008- The NHS’s £12.7bn NPfIT programme to provide every patient in England with an electronic care record suffered a severe blow as the project fired one of its key suppliers after failing to resolve a dispute over the contract.

NHS NPfIT will be at least four years late
Mon, June 9, 2008– It will be at least 2014 – four years later than planned – before a single NHS electronic patient records NPfIT system is in place in England, say auditors.

Labour ministers ignored junior doctor recruitment warnings
Thu, May 22, 2008- Thousands of junior doctors had their careers thrown into chaos last summer because of “inept” decisions at the highest levels, according to a report by MPs.

Top officials to be held to account for data losses
Tue, May 6, 2008- Senior Whitehall figures are to be held personally responsible if their department loses or mishandles personal information, under a range of measures designed to increase data security.

Nine more NHS trusts admit scandalous security breaches as more personal data is lost
Thu, May 1, 2008- Nine more NHS trusts in England have admitted losing patient records in a fresh case of wholesale data loss by labour government services, Health Direct has learnt.

Data watchdog hits out at diabolical NHS trust
Wed, Apr 09, 2008- The privacy watchdog has attacked a National Health Service trust’s “clearly inadequate” records management, in a warning to other public authorities guilty of similar failings.

NHS NPfIT delays hit promised cash savings
Tue, Mar 25, 2008- The potential savings from the £12.4bn NHS’s NPfIT project in England have been hit by delays dogging key parts of the programme, the labour government admits.

NHS Direct- each call to ineffective health service costs £16
Thu, Mar 06, 2008– NHS Direct- every call answered by NHS Direct costs taxpayers more than £16 despite attempts to cut costs at the health helpline. A single telephone query is almost as expensive as a visit to a GP, official figures show.

NHS gag upheld on Dr Foster controversy
Fri, Feb 08, 2008- A former top government statistician who claims she was made a scapegoat by the Department of Health has failed to overturn a gagging agreement that forbids her from talking about her departure.

Dr Foster health information service- call for new probe
Fri Jan 18 2008- MPs should consider reopening a probe into a contentious public private health data venture Dr Foster in the light of concerns raised by a senior official involved in the deal, the shadow health secretary said.

Health ministry faces scapegoat claim over Dr Foster
Wed Jan 16 2008- The Department of Health made a “scapegoat” of a top statistician who raised the alarm with senior officials about the contentious public private venture Dr Foster Intelligence joint venture’s worth and its handling of information.

NHS trusts lose patients’ records
Tue Jan 08 2008- Gordon Brown was facing further political embarrassment over the labour government’s handling of personal data after the Department of Health confirmed that nine National Health Service trusts had admitted losing patient records.

Thousands of patients’ data lost by NHS trusts
Thu Jan 03 2008- Hundreds of thousands of confidential patient records are believed to have gone missing in the latest lost data scandal.

NHS frequently leaks patients’ records personal medical data
Fri 14 Dec 2007- Patients’ confidential medical records are regularly being accessed by people who have no right to them, research by the BBC has revealed. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that in the last year there have been several data security breaches in the West of England.

NHS database will weaken patient security MPs learn
Thu 22 Nov 2007- The man in charge of setting up the NHS medical records database has admitted that “you cannot stop the wicked doing wicked things” with information. Richard Jeavons, director of IT implementation at the Department of Health, said there were instances where staff “abuse their privileges”.

Shocking labour incompetent data misuse as 25 million parents exposed to risk of ID fraud
Wed 21 Nov 2007- Health Direct asks if you remember all those labour MPs who supported the national ID card scheme, the DNA database and the NHS IT system? They said we had nothing to fear…..labour said that your data will be safe with them.

NHS shakes up £12bn NPfIT IT programme
Wed 17 Oct 2007- A big revamp of the National Health Service’s £12bn IT programme is under way that will see NHS trusts given more choice of how systems are installed and which software they get.

Junior doctors’ training still under fire over DoH’s MMC MTAS disaster
Thu 11 Oct 2007- The Department of Health yesterday reverted to more standard recruitment practices for junior doctors seeking training posts for next year after the chaos that the caused with the MTAS IT application system this year.

NHS Choices- massive inaccuracies mar GP patient website
Mon 13 Aug 07- NHS Choices the Department of Health’s flagship website is to ask primary care trusts and GP practices to correct widespread mistakes on the Department of Health’s flagship NHS Choices website. Half of the NHS Choices website’s information on GP opening hours and a third of practitioners’ names are thought to be incorrect, Health Direct and HSJ can reveal.

Junior doctors still jobless in MTAS hospitals chaos
Fri 3 Aug 07- Hundreds of operations in hospitals across England will be cancelled in the chaos as 30,000 junior doctors start new jobs this week. The British Medical Association said that because of the scramble to fill posts ahead of Wednesday’s deadline after the collapse of the recruitment system, consultants have been left unable to plan theatre time.

NHS Choices criticised for out of date, utterly dishonest, trite and patronising information
Mon 23 Jul 07- NHS Choices the Department of Health’s new £14 million “flagship” website contains GP practice information which in some cases is at much as six years out-of-date, Health Direct and EHI Primary Care has learnt.

NHS Software suppliers may seek compensation as IT chief Grainger leaves
Wed, 20 Jun 07- The NHS could face pressure from its big three IT suppliers- BT, CSC and Fujitsu- to change the £6bn contracts they have signed, following Richard Granger’s departure from the helm of the world’s biggest civil NPfIT project.

NHS hospital bought computer parts off eBay waiting for NPfIT project
Thu 17 May 07- Patients are being put at risk because of delays in implementing the new NHS computer system, according to a study of senior managers. Parts of the £12.4 billion National Programme for IT (NPfIT) are years behind schedule.

NHS’s NPfIT upgrade creates false patient records
Wed 9 May 07- A software upgrade under the NHS’s National Programme for IT (NPfIT) has led to hundreds of ­incorrect duplicate patient records being created every day at NHS sites in Greater Manchester. A team has been formed to prevent patient data being lost. The emergency action raises questions about how well NPfIT systems are being tested before going live.

Contender for greatest of all Labour’s NHS failures- MTAS Junior Doctor application system
Mon 30 Apr 07- The crisis that is leading highly qualified junior doctors to head abroad is the result of one of the National Health Service’s all-time great administrative cock-ups. It is has left 30,000 junior doctors bitterly disillusioned and angry. But it also has big potential implications for patient care.

Junior doctors details data exposed online in MTAS fiasco
Fri 27 Apr 07- Adding insult to injury? The intimate details of thousands of junior doctors are left wide open on the internet. The Medical Training Application Service or MTAS is a computer system where student and junior doctors try to apply for jobs – an IT system which they were repeatedly assured by Labour ministers was secure.

Patients ‘not getting choice of hospital’-Choose and Book broken promise
Wed 11 Apr 07- Fewer than half of NHS patients are being granted new rights to more choice over where they have operations, more than a year after the policy was introduced. A Government survey found that four out of 10 people referred to hospitals by GPs recalled being offered a choice of where to have their treatment. Since Jan 1 last year, all NHS patients referred for most non-emergency treatments should be offered a choice of at least four hospitals.

Hewitt U turn and apparent apology for Doctors’ MMC chaos
Wed 4 Apr 07- Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has apologised to junior doctors over the continuing recruitment crisis. A new online system for selecting doctors for training posts has been heavily criticised for failing to select the best candidates. Ms Hewitt said the scheme had caused “terrible anxiety” for junior doctors which shouldn’t have happened. The government has now offered doctors one interview but the British Medical Association said it was “unacceptable”.

Climb down over junior doctor fiasco MMC MTAS IT system
Thu 8 Mar 07- The Labour govt backed down yesterday and agreed to an immediate review of a flawed selection system that has left thousands of able young doctors without the prospect of a job and many threatening to leave the NHS. The independent review will start today and may recommend changes to the system before the current interview round has been completed.

NHS chief rules out review of £12bn IT system
Mon 5 Feb 07- There is to be no independent review of the National Health Service’s controversial £12bn information technology programme according to the head of the NHS, although significant changes in the way it is implemented appear to be on the way. David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive, said nothing “has led me to believe that we are wildly off course” or that “a major review of the programme is required at this particular stage”

NHS Confidentaility at the Big Opt Out- protect your medical privacy NOW!
Fri 29 Dec 06- NHS Confidentaility aka the Big Opt Out- Protect your privacy and campaign to preserve your medical confidentiality. Do you want ministers, the police and over 250,000 others to be able to access your complete medical history? If not please sign up NOW!

Patients win partial right to block medical records in U turn on CfH IT project
Thu 21 Dec 06- Labour Ministers have bowed to the complete distrust some patients have of the planned National Health Service electronic patient record Connected for Health IT £20 billion system by appearing to agree that we will be able to place a total block on our records being uploaded to the system- rather than just a bar on them being shared. Precisely how they will be able to do that, however, has yet to be established ahead of pilot projects planned for the spring.

MPs will hold inquiry into £12bn (NPfIT) NHS IT plan
Wed 29 Nov 06- The House of Commons’ Health Committee has agreed to hold an inquiry into key facets of the £12.4bn NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) after some MPs expressed concerns that the scheme may be foundering. The decision reverses a resolution taken by the parliamentary committee only weeks ago not to hold an inquiry, and vindicates a campaign led by leading academics, Health Direct, Computer Weekly and MPs.

GPs revolt over patient files privacy on flagship IT system
Tue 21 Nov 06- About 50% of family doctors are threatening to defy government instructions to automatically put patient records on a new national database because of fears that they will not be safe, a Guardian poll reveals today. It shows that GPs are expressing grave doubts about access to the “Spine” – an electronic warehouse being built to store information on about 50 million patients – and how information on it could be vulnerable to hackers, bribery and blackmail.

IT project accused of bullying- Connecting for Health underfunded and plain wrong
Tue 14 Nov 06- Managers have attacked the Connecting for Health IT project for ‘bullying’ people into talking down problems on the ground. West Herts primary care trust IM&T service manager Roz Foad was among speakers at an IT conference who criticised the scheme to create an NHS-wide clinical computer system.

Warning over privacy of 50m patient files in NHS IT project
Fri 3 Nov 06- Millions of personal medical records are to be uploaded regardless of patients’ wishes to a central national database from where information can be made available to police and security services, the Guardian has learned. Details of mental illnesses, abortions, pregnancy, HIV status, drug-taking, or alcoholism may also be included, and there are no laws to prevent DNA profiles being added. The uploading is planned under Whitehall’s bedevilled £12bn scheme to computerise the health service.

NHS and suppliers struggle with basics on CfH patient record system
Thu 2 Nov 06- The National Health Service and its suppliers are struggling to get in place the basic building blocks for the planned national electronic patient record (Connected for Health). The NHS financial deficit from last year and a shortage of resources to train staff appear to be compounding problems linking old systems with the new ones, as well as difficulties in migrating old data to the new systems.

Treasury figures reveal IT project delays totalling 17 years
Fri 13 Oct 06-
The scale of the problems facing large government information technology projects was underlined yesterday as Treasury figures revealed delays totalling more than 17 years. The fresh details, which came in response to a parliamentary question by the Liberal Democrats, emerged against the background of a two-year delay to the vast £12.4bn upgrade of the National Health Service’s IT systems and as Labour prepares to launch the procurement process for its national identity card project, which is slated to cost £5.4bn.

Accenture drops out of NHS’s NPfIT IT project
Thu 28 Sep 06- US consultancy firm Computer Sciences Corporation has taken over as the largest regional contractor on the NHS’s troubled £6.2bn IT overhaul after rival group Accenture yesterday exited two 10-year contracts with the health service worth £2bn. CSC, already the lead contractor on a £973m contract in the north-west of England, is now charged with digitising the largely paper-based systems in GP surgeries, hospitals and other NHS trusts in the east and north-east of England.

NHS Health systems hit by 110 IT incidents
Tue 19 Sep 06- NHS Hospitals have been hit by more than 110 “major incidents” affecting their information technology systems over the past four months, according to a report in Computer Weekly. They include the data centre crash in July which saw 80 National Health Service trusts lose central services provided by Connecting for Health, the NHS’s £12.4bn IT programme, for up to four days. But others have seen digital X-ray systems and patient administration systems go down, with more than 20 of them affecting more than one hospital site.

National Audit Office pledges new report on NHS NPfIT project
Thu 7 Sep 06- The National Audit Office (NAO) is to publish a new report into the UK’s largest IT investment, the £12.4bn National Programme for IT in the NHS. Its decision follows criticism by MPs of the Audit Office’s June 2006 report on the NHS programme. Greg Clark, a member of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, said the June report was “the most gushing” of all NAO reports he had read. Another member of the Public Accounts Committee, Richard Bacon, said the NAO’s report on the NPfIT was not up to the organisation’s usual high standards.

New setback for NHS IT computer project as NPfIT “sleepwalks to disaster”
Mon 4 Sep 06- The troubled multi-billion-pound NHS computer system suffered a fresh blow last night when it emerged that two-thirds of the hospital trusts due to have installed an electronic patient administration system for booking appointments with consultants by the end of October will not meet the deadline.

Isoft losses £343.8m- NPfIT £20 Billion project at greater risk
Fri 25 Aug 06- The company at heart of NHS reform in serious trouble- Isoft the troubled healthcare software company that is being investigated by the Financial Services Authority for issuing potentially misleading statements to the market, today reported a full year pre-tax loss of £343.8m. The Manchester-based company also revealed that Accenture and Computer Sciences Corporation, its senior partners on different parts of the NHS IT project, have accused it of material breach of contract. It is denying the claims, but said that the most likely outcome was a commercial settlement.

NHS ID cards are doomed say officials
Tue 11 July- Tony Bliar’s flagship NHS identity cards scheme is set to fail and may not be introduced for a generation, according to leaked Whitehall e-mails from the senior officials responsible for the multi-billion-pound project. The problems are so serious that ministers have been forced to draw up plans for a scaled-down “face-saving” version to meet their pledge of phasing in the cards from 2008. However, civil servants say there is no evidence that even this compromise is “remotely feasible” and accuse ministers of “ignoring reality” by pressing ahead.

NAO warns on NHS IT systems two years late and £20bn cost climbs
Sat 17 Jun- The National Audit Office reported to Parliament the results of its examination of the National Programme for IT in the NHS. It found key parts of the NPfIT were running at least 2 years late and that the total cost of the project may be as much as £20 billion once all the elements are included.

Trusts pay to end NPfIT staff supply contracts in red tape chaos
Thu 8 Jun– National Health Service trusts are having to buy themselves out of a commitment to supply staff to companies building the NPfIT electronic patient record system. Trusts in the south are paying Fujitsu £19m after the service found it could not provide 50 NHS employees to help with the programme.

£20bn (NpfIT) computer failures left NHS patients waiting longer
Mon 5 Jun- Evidence that the Labour government’s troubled £20 billion National Health Service computer system has lengthened waiting times for patients has emerged for the first time. It was hoped that a pilot scheme for the technology at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust in Oxford would show the benefits of the delayed system. Instead, when it went “live”, the computers crashed, data could not be found and some patients found that they were facing among the longest waits for operations in the country.

Health service faces up to costly IT operations
Wed 31 May– The National Health Service is likely to spend close to £20bn over the next decade on its ambitious programme to create an electronic record for every patient in England, Lord Warner, the health minister in charge of the programme, has said yesterday.

NHS electronic patient IT records project (CfH) will be at least two years late
Tue 30 May– Plans to give all 50m NHS patients in England a full electronic medical record are running at least two to two-and-a-half years late, Lord Warner, the health minister who oversees the project, has confirmed. He also admitted that the full cost of the programme was likely to be nearer £20bn than the widely quoted figure of £6.2bn. The latter figure covered only the national contracts for the systems’ basic infrastructure and software applications, he said.

Labour U-turn over ID card medical details
Wed 26 Apr- Identity cards are to carry medical details, despite repeated Labour government assurances that concerns about privacy meant it would not happen. A minister at the Home Office disclosed it wants people to put personal health information on the cards to give doctors information for emergencies.

Anatomy of a £15bn gamble- CfH’s NHS IT busted flush
Mon 17 Apr- The new NHS computer system could be the biggest IT disaster in history, warn experts. Inside a leading hospital in Oxford, expensive new computers were humming away just before Christmas when disaster struck. The Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre was at the forefront of a multi-billion-pound revolution to modernise the entire computer system of the National Health Service — and the screens had suddenly frozen

Top UK IT experts call for audit of NHS (NPfIT) programme
Tue 11 Apr- Leading computer science experts are this week writing to parliament calling for an independent audit of the NHS national programme for IT (NPfIT). The signatories, 23 of the UK’s top academics in computer-related sciences, are concerned about the technical feasibility of a fully integrated national programme. Their open letter to the House of Commons Health Select Committee echoes a call last week by Computer Weekly and Health Direct for an independent audit of the project.

NPfIT NHS plan is evolving but one-size-fits-all is a fundamental flaw, says hospital chief
Mon 20 Mar– Sir Jonathan Michael, a top NHS executive, who spoke at a healthcare symposium at London’s City University last week pointed to a fundamental flaw in the NHS’s IT-driven modernisation. The flaw Michael sees in the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) is its centralised, standardised approach at a time when the health service is decentralising. The chief executive of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Michael wants IT support for the specific ways people work in particular parts of his organisation, such as the accident and emergency department.

NHS care records IT roll-out raises patient safety fears
Fri 17 Mar– The first go-live in the South of England of a pivotal part of the NHS’s £6.2bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT) has caused significant disruption at a hospital in Oxford and put the safety of patients at potential risk, according to NHS documents. Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre filed a “serious untoward incident” report with the government’s National Patient Safety Agency after the fraught implementation at the hospital of a Care Records Service for sharing electronic records nationwide.

Junior Doctors’ new IT MMC recruitment system is a disaster
Mon 6 Mar– It is an irony that many of the questions junior doctors must answer when they fill in the new form to apply for hospital jobs relate to their leadership skills and ability to work as part of a team. The form is part of a new applications procedure, called Modernising Medical Careers (MMC), which involves no human interaction whatsoever. Hospitals are banned from holding interviews, having to rely instead upon a computer “dating” system that supposedly matches the applicant to the job.

Doctors worry about cost and privacy concerns in NHS’s IT plans
Fri 13 Jan– A survey reveals a growing number of clinicians are worried about roll-out of national IT systems. Support among the key target users of the world’s largest civil computer programme, the IT-based modernisation of the NHS, has largely dissipated despite a major communications drive in recent months, according to a new survey.

Patients lives put at risk by NHS computer fault
Thu 12 Jan– Hundreds of patients have been put at risk after a computer glitch caused parts of their medical notes to disappear and attach to other patients’ records. The errors were caused by faulty software in the controversial GPASS computer system used by more than 80% of GPs in Scotland.

NHS IT chaos exposed by new emails

Mon 14 Nov– A computer project costing £6.2 billion that is central to Tony Blair’s National Health Service reforms is in “grave” danger of being “derailed”, leaked Whitehall e-mails reveal. The warning has been issued by Richard Granger, the £250,000-a-year civil servant in charge of what has been billed as the world’s biggest civil information technology project.

IT choose and book failure- preserving the china

Thu 10 Nov– Health Direct’s blog reproduces this editorial from the Financial Times: Last week the sound of smashing crockery and breaking furniture could be heard from inside the Department of Health.

Choose and Book IT fiasco ‘will be a year late’

Thu 3 Nov– The flagship Choose and Book electronic booking application will be at least a year late by the time it is rolled out across England NHS chief executive, Sir Nigel Crisp, said yesterday. Speaking to the House of Commons public accounts committee (PAC) he said that patients would still be offered a choice of four or five providers by the end of next month, but most of the appointments would be booked manually or over the phone.

100% failure rate for new IT Choose and Book system

Fri 30 Sep– Every PCT is to miss it’s Choose and Book target. The Department of Health (DH) has admitted that not a single primary care trust in England is likely to be in a position to meet its next Choose and Book target and is relying on paper solutions to deliver its flagship policy on choice at referral.

Doctors “demoralised” by £6.2bn NHS IT scheme

Mon 8 Aug- Frontline health service staff are “heavily demoralised” over the lack of information and communication around the £6.2bn NHS IT modernisation programme. The delays and costs are causing headaches for frontline NHS staff, claims reasearch.

Information Commissioner slams ID cards

Wed 29 June- The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) outlined its concerns regarding the proposed national identity card scheme, including the establishment of a national register of citizens’ personal details.

ID cards are high risk claims LSE

Mon 27 June- ID Cards aka “NHS entitlement cards” are a high risk claims the London School of Economics (LSE)

Doctors reject IT Choose and book

Wed 22 June- GPs have voted to oppose the new Patients’ IT “choose and book” system in its current form, citing numerous objections.

Key IT supplier is sacked for failure

Fri 10 June- An international company that failed to meet deadlines to provide software for hospital patient booking systems across the south of England has become the first victim of a ‘get-tough’ approach to delivery of the national IT programme.

Cost of ID cards soars to £300 per person

Mon 30 May- The government’s plans to introduce identity cards were dealt a body blow last night after it emerged the true cost of the scheme could top £18 billion, more than triple the official estimate.

No 2 ID cards aka NHS Entitlement cards

Thu 26 May– The ID Cards aka the “NHS Entitlement Card” Bill returned to Parliament and is as bad as it ever was- and in some ways worse.

NHS smartcard will cut time for patients

Thur, 12 May– The NHS stands to lose more than 160,000 hours in the working time of doctors, nurses and other health staff as they register for smart ID cards which give them access to new national systems.

Choose & lose- another Labour policy fails

Fri 6 May- ‘Choose and lose’ – how another one of Labour’s flagship health policies fell apart. Family doctors are warning that another of the Government’s much-trumpeted health targets, which is costing taxpayers more than £300 million to set up and run this year, is so misguided that it is likely to backfire.

Leading NHS IT specialist suspended

Fri, 22 April– A top official has been suspended at a critical stage in the £6bn NHS programme to implement electronic health records and hospital appointment booking systems.

Data protection promise broken

Wed, March 30– Privacy fears over NHS database- there are fears patients will have no say over what details are stored. A new NHS computer database may threaten the privacy of patients’ medical records.

Shortage of key IT skills in public sector

Fri, March 25- Public sector information technology projects and their suppliers are grappling with a shortage of key skills on which their successful delivery depends, Richard Granger, director of the National Health Service’s 6.2bn pound IT programme has warned

Current ID card legislation must be abandoned- LSE urges

Thur, March 24– The current identity card bill proposals are ‘too complex, technically unsafe, overly prescriptive and lack a foundation of public trust and confidence’, according to a new report published by academics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Nine-month delay for ‘common solution’ IT implementation– Delivery of the ‘common solution’, the standardised clinical IT system being developed for London and the south of England, will be delayed by at least nine months. The delay is the latest to affect the national programme for IT, following problems with the delivery of choose and book and the NHS ‘data spine’. Originally due by this October, the ‘common solution’, which will eventually deliver a fully integrated patient records system, now looks unlikely to be available until June 2006 at the earliest.

Ten government IT projects hit ‘red light’ status– Whitehall has revealed some details of its 10 most ‘at-risk’ IT projects, following a Freedom of Information request. The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has released details of IT projects found to be most at risk across Whitehall, but is keeping the projects’ identities secret.

MPs told prescribers plans may jeopardise patient choice– Pharmacist representatives have told MPs that plans to allow GPs and other prescribers to nominate a patient’s pharmacy for electronic transmission of prescriptions (ETP) will jeopardise patient choice.

Even the Financial Times is against the farcical ID card- which the NHS is depending on so that the state can limit our access to the NHS services: It’s lead editorial for Tuesday 30th November 2004:

Identity parade fails to convince
There are so many benefits of having identity cards, according to the government, that ministers should probably be resigning for their failure to introduce them earlier. ID cards will help the fight against terrorism and organised crime, expose illegal immigrants, protect public services against fraud and fend off identity theft. Since passports will soon include biometric data, cards will cost a bargain extra £35 a head, plus public investment of £3bn.

Yet British people walk around without ID cards for good reasons – including the impossibility of producing the promised benefits without draconian legislation. There are important risks in the scheme that ministers fail to acknowledge. And the cost is likely to be much higher, as the experience of government information technology projects has shown.

ID cards, as the prime minister and home secretary both say, are no guarantee of security. The terrorists who attacked the US on September 11 2001 travelled under their own identities. The Madrid bombers were not deterred by Spain’s ID cards.

Cards will have to be produced within 24 or 48 hours of a request – little deterrent for illegal immigrants, money-launderers or drug traffickers. Meanwhile, millions of visitors, who may include terrorists and criminals, will not be carrying the ID card. Both drawbacks could be remedied by making it compulsory to carry such ID – but that would be an unacceptable change in the relationship between the individual and the British state. As for welfare fraud, sick people are unlikely to be refused medical treatment because they cannot produce a card – and nor will the penniless be left to starve. And since false passports and false driving licences are readily available, ID cards will be no guarantee against forged identity.

Indeed, identity theft could become easier if ID cards are accepted as sole proof of identity. And criminals will quickly get access to the national identity register – as they already do to other government databases.

Last, the government’s record on big IT projects gives no confidence that the scheme will be introduced on time or to budget – or even at all. Earlier this month, the National Audit Office highlighted the serious shortages of public sector staff with the necessary project and programme management skills. It found that fewer than a quarter of projects reviewed were going smoothly, and a quarter were in serious trouble. Shortly after, the catastrophic failures of the new IT system at the Child Support Agency were revealed, with the minister in charge threatening to pull the plug on it.

Ministers believe they can sell ID cards to the electorate in the current atmosphere of fear and insecurity. But the experience of wartime identity cards shows how quickly they can become unpopular once the immediate threat has waned. If the government persists with its plans, it will eventually be punished at the polls.

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