NHS Connecting For Health

Good old NHS, a subject close to all of our hearts, especially the closer we get to our twilight years.

I make no bones about it, leaving party politics out of it just for a minute, I am a firm believer in Cradle To The Grave Healthcare, and if you ever want to see me really angry just engage me on Privatised Healthcare.

NHS Connecting For Health.

What is it?

An initiative by the Department of Health in England to move the National Health Service (NHS) in England towards a single, centrally-mandated electronic care record for patients and to connect 30,000 General practitioners to 300 hospitals, providing secure and audited access to these records by authorised health professionals.

The programme was established in October 2002 following several Department of Health reports on IT Strategies for the NHS., and on April 1, 2005 a new agency called NHS Connecting for Health (CfH) was formed to deliver the programme. CfH absorbed both staff and workstreams from the abolished NHS Information Authority, the organisation it replaced. CfH is based in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

The cost of the programme, together with its ongoing problems of management and the withdrawal or sacking of two of the four IT providers, have placed it at the centre of ongoing controversy, and the Commons Public Accounts Committee has repeatedly expressed serious concerns over its scope, planning, budgeting, and practical value to patients. As of January 2009, while some systems were being deployed across the NHS, other key components of the system were estimated to be four years behind schedule, and others had yet to be deployed outside individual trusts at all.

Eventually things came to a head in 2011.The project to “modernise” the NHS computer systems, replacing them all with a single system that would enable any doctor to access any patient’s records stalled.  After a decade, and nearly £12 billion spent, the project was abandoned, without a new system, but with the NHS facing a £750 million lawsuit from one of the contractors.

Let me just make this quite clear, – £12 billion would pay the salaries of 60,000 nurses (that’s SIXTY THOUSAND, not a typo) for 10 YEARS.

I’d like to think that this story ended here, but it doesn’t.  It’s not all about the money.

Human suffering is inextricably linked to Health matters.  The shambolic computer system was (allegedly) responsible for the following catastrophes;

  • 2007: Enfield PCT were unable to obtain vital data on patients awaiting operations and were obliged to delay 63 patients of the Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals. Further, 20 patients were not readmitted for treatment within 28 days towards the end of the year because the surveillance system for tracking them “was not operational in the new … system”.
  • Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust found that problems with the system had meant potentially infectious patients with MRSA were not isolated for up to 17 days, requiring six weeks work by staff to update them manually.
  • April 2008: Enfield PCT found that the system had failed to flag up possible child-abuse victims entering hospital to key staff, “leaving the responsibility to the receptionist”
  • May 2008: Enfield PCT found that 272 elective operations were cancelled at the last minute for “non-clinical reasons”
  • May 2008: Barts and The London NHS Trust blamed their failure over the preceding six months to meet targets for treating emergency patients within four hours on staff not being familiar with the new computer system. The same report cited “breaches of the two-week urgent cancer access guarantee” and delays in assessing 11 patients with possible cancer as being due to the computer system.
  • July 2008: the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust said 12,000 patient records had to be manually amended over a three-week period due to the system, and noted that “The outpatient appointment centre has experienced a significant increase in the time taken to process individual patient appointment bookings. This has had a consequent and negative effect on call-answer performance.”

So there you have it, another £12 billion pounds wasted as The Big Picture takes its stroll trough Government Wastage.  I hope you’re adding it all up.  I’m not necessarily certain that we can blame individual MPs and Ministers, I’m sure there’s some Sir Humphrey’s to blame somewhere along the way.

Politician or Civil Servant doesn’t matter to the great British Public, they’re incompetent and that’s the bottom line.

The whole damn lot needs shaking up.  Let’s do it, let’s do it large, and let’s do it ONCE.  Never again should we have to endure these shambles.

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2 thoughts on “NHS Connecting For Health

  1. Pingback: SNAFU or FUBAR? | The Big Picture

  2. Pingback: Cynical? Me? Surely Not? | RetiredAndAngry

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