Thursday, March 13, 2008

Well worth a read - 198 reasons why we're in a mess

Simon Caulkin has published another column that is well worth a read. See it via John Naughton's blog.
The National Programme for IT: Agitation by Computing and Systems academics justified

The work of my colleagues who have been spearheading the activities of the original group of 24 (now sadly 23) academics who wrote a public letter calling for an independent inquiry into the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT; see my earlier postings on this matter) seems justified in the light of recent disclosures by the NHS Chief Executive. Without pressure in the face of the madness - sustained from a number of sources - it is perhaps unlikely that this about face would have occurred, except that time continued to reveal the flaws inherent in the original conception.

"NHS chief executive David Nicholson says the NHS IT programme had become too centralised to support the move to a health service based on plurality and far more locally-based decision making by clinicians and patients. Speaking at the World Healthcare Congress in Berlin on
Monday Nicholson explained why the introuduction of the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) Local Ownership Programme had become necessary to support the future structure and achieve a far more integrated and devolved health service, in which services are "wrapped around patients". Nicholson said: "It felt we'd reached a position where the balance was not in the right place". The challenge he said was extremely difficult, "How does a very central system
adapt to becoming a very local one." The NHS chief executive said that as a result of listening to the views of clinicians and patients the NHS IT programme was being reviewed and reshaped. "We are working through that now." . . . Despite difficulties and changes to the programme now underway, Nicholson said the health service's IT programme had achieved significant benefit, already saved 400 lives. It also highlighted efficiency savings saying a quarter of a million paper prescriptions had so far been eliminated. "We are already seeing real benefits and real problems as well