Media Commentary on the Open Letter and the Agreed Statement

From Nhs It Info

Contents

CfH says it has 'no objection' to a review (21 Apr 2006)

e-Health Insider

http://www.e-health-insider.com/news/item.cfm?ID=1841

"Connecting for Health has agreed with its academic critics that "a constructive and pragmatic" independent review of the National Programme for IT could be valuable, according to a statement issued today. A CfH official meanwhile told EHI that the the meeting "was extremely cordial", and said that "CfH had no objection to an independent taking place". The statement issed today follows on from a meeting held yesterday between Connecting for Health’s chief executive, Richard Granger, and six representatives from the 23 UK-based academics who wrote an open letter calling for an independent technical review of the national programme. Describing the meeting as a "constructive and fruitful dialogue", the CfH statement continued: "The representatives expressed their agreement with and support for the overall goals of the programme in the meeting. There was agreement that a constructive and pragmatic independent review of the programme could be valuable. The parties agreed to meet again to consider further details of how such a review might best be conducted and its terms of reference." The academics had said in their letter, addressed to the House of Commons health select committee: "Concrete, objective information about NPfIT's [National Programme for IT] progress is not available to external observers. Reliable sources within NPfIT have raised concerns about the technology itself. "The National Audit Office report about NPfIT is delayed until this summer, at the earliest; the report is not expected to address major technical issues. As computer scientists, engineers and informaticians, we question the wisdom of continuing NPfIT without an independent assessment of its basic technical viability." As the academics acknowledged, the national programme is already under scrutiny by the National Audit Office and, in addition, Richard Jeavons, CFH's director of service implementation has said a "refresh" of the programme is underway, though this would appear to be a review of the programme's alignment with central policy for the NHS.

Controversial NHS IT system 'under review' (21 Apr 2006)

24Dash.com

http://www.24dash.com/content/news/viewNews.php?navID=3&newsID=5032

"An independent review of the controversial NHS IT system appears more likely today as question marks grow over the current scheme designed to link together over 30,000 GPs and 300 hospitals across the UK. Earlier this month, 23 computer experts wrote an open letter to MPs calling for an independent audit of the £6.2 billion system which was targetted for installation by 2012. It involves an online booking system, a centralised medical records system for 50 million patients, e-prescriptions and fast computer network links between NHS organisations. The open letter asked if "realistic assessments" had been carried out of how much data the system will have to cope with. It said: "Concrete, objective information about NPfIT's progress is not available to external observers. "As computer scientists, engineers and informaticians, we question the wisdom of continuing NPfIT without an independent assessment of its basic technical viability." 24dash reported the comments of South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon last month as he urged the National Audit Office to investigate the matter, saying the project had "many of the hallmarks of a classic IT fiasco". Yesterday, six representatives of those who signed the letter met with NHS Connecting for Health (NHS CFH), which is responsible for the programme. The NHS CFH released a statement today suggesting an independent audit could happen. It said: "At the meeting on 20 April between the six representatives of the 23 signatories and NHS Connecting for Health a constructive and fruitful dialogue occurred. "The representatives expressed their agreement with and support for the overall goals of the programme in the meeting. "There was agreement that a constructive and pragmatic independent review of the programme could be valuable. "The parties agreed to meet again to consider further details of how such a review might best be conducted and its terms of reference." The magazine, Computer Weekly, which has campaigned for an audit of the system, said it welcomed the announcement.

Computer experts' anxieties force review of NHS system (22 Apr 2006)

Daily Telegraph

telegraph22iv2006.jpg

"The Government bowed to pressure yesterday to conduct an independent review of the £6.2 billion computerized online booking system for the National Health Service. . . After meeting representatives of the letter's signatories NHS Connecting for Health, which is responsible for the programme, suggested yesterday that an independent audit could happen. It added: "The parties agreed to meet again to consider further details of how such a review might best be conducted and its terms of reference.""

National programme accepts value of IT audit (25 Apr 2006)

Computer Weekly

http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2006/04/25/215532/NationalprogrammeacceptsvalueofITaudit.htm

"Connecting for Health, the agency that runs the national programme for IT in the NHS, has agreed with 23 leading academics that an independent audit of the scheme could be valuable. The agency's agreement came when Richard Granger, director general of NHS IT, met academics last week at Richmond House, the headquarters of the Department of Health. The meeting was arranged at short notice after Computer Weekly revealed that the 23 experts in computer-related sciences had written an open letter to the House of Commons Health Committee asking for an independent audit of the national programme. In a statement, Connecting for Health said that at the meeting on 20 April "there was agreement that a constructive and pragmatic independent review of the programme could be valuable". Both parties "agreed to meet again to consider further details of how such a review might best be conducted and its terms of reference". The agreement was in contrast to the initial hostile reaction to the audit call by health minister Caroline Flint. . ."

Why IT is not like building bridges (26 Apr 2006)

Computing

http://www.computing.co.uk/computing/comment/2154832/why-building-bridges

"Once again public sector IT is in the news, and not in a good way. A group of academics say the £6bn National Programme for NHS IT (NPfIT), now two years into its 10-year lifespan, is fundamentally flawed and should be paused for an independent review. Computing is by no means universally forgiving of government technology. Clearly if problems are irremediable, good money should not be thrown after bad. But it is becoming too easy to dismiss every challenge as a crisis. That the phrase ‘government IT programme’ has become synonymous with disaster is a disaster in itself. After all, what is the alternative? Stick with paper and pens? . . . NPfIT is undoubtedly slower and more difficult than expected. But NHS sources say the problems are not flaws in the design, but management errors and an almost irresponsibly optimistic timetable. As one senior source puts it: ‘The strategy is right, they just over-egged the expectations.’ This is indeed a lesson that should have been learned. But to sacrifice the whole scheme is equally irresponsible. The issue is not just public relations, it is about understanding. Technolog y is still seen as just another form of engineering. But IT systems are not like bridges – they are a tool, not an entity. Arguably, giving NPfIT a name, a set of dates and a separate organisation was setting it up as a target for failure. Technology is a process, with no clear start, no clear end and ever-shifting goalposts. And as fast as IT itself evolves, the potential uses of it morph and multiply. There is no end date. The bridge is never built. But that does not mean it is a disaster. That is simply how it should be."

iSoft user group pushing for review of NPfIT (13 Jun 2006)

e-Health Insider

http://www.ehiprimarycare.com/news/item.cfm?ID=1939

"A primary care IT user group has backed calls for an independent review of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), accusing the project of being unnecessarily secretive, failing to consult its members and producing systems that are not fit for purpose."

The Continuing Saga of NHS IT Folk (Jun 2006)

Symantec

http://www.symantec.com/en/uk/enterprise/Custom/nhs-itfolk.jsp

"In April 2006, in an open letter to the House of Commons Health Select Committee of the UK Parliament with a great deal of press fanfare, 23 UK academics called for an audit of the NHS Programme for IT (NPfIT). . . So what next? The academics were right to question the technical aspects, and the NAO the finances – although there is a House of Commons Public Accounts Committee which will be discussing the report as this OpinionWire is published, and they may be more critical than the NAO. . ."

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