Second Open Letter to the Health Select Committee

From Nhs It Info

October 6 2006

Dear Mr. Barron

In April this year, we wrote to you to express our concern that the National Programme for IT in the Heath Service is displaying many of the symptoms that we have observed in previous major IT projects that have subsequently failed. We suggested that your committee could resolve uncertainty about the NPfIT by commissioning an independent technical assessment with all possible speed.

Your Second Clerk, Eliot Wilson, subsequently asked us to provide more detail of the sort of review that we believed was needed, and we sent proposed Terms of Reference on May 14th, along with further details of the issues that led to our letter.

Since then a steady stream of reports have increased our alarm about NPfIT. We support Connecting for Health in their commitment to ensure that the NHS has cost-effective, modern IT systems, and we strongly believe that an independent and constructive technical review in the form that we proposed is an essential step in helping the project to succeed. As a review will take several months to organise, conduct and report, we believe that there is a compelling case for your committee to conduct an immediate Inquiry: to establish the scale of the risks facing NPfIT; to initiate the technical review; and to identify appropriate shorter-term measures to protect the programme’s objectives.

If your committee would like more detail of our concerns, we should be very happy to answer any questions orally or in writing.

We attach copies of our previous letters, for ease of reference.


Ross Anderson
Professor of Security Engineering
Cambridge University

James Backhouse
Director, Information System Integrity Group
London School of Economics

David Bustard
Professor and Head of Computing and Information Engineering
University of Ulster

Ewart Carson
Professor of Systems Science
Centre for Health Informatics
City University

Patrik O’Brian Holt
School of Computing
The Robert Gordon University

Roland Ibbett
School of Informatics
University of Edinburgh

Ray Ison
Professor of Systems
The Open University

Achim Jung
School of Computer Science
University of Birmingham

Frank Land
Emeritus Professor
Information Systems Department
London School of Economics

Bev Littlewood
Professor of Software Engineering
City University

John A McDermid
Professor of Software Engineering
University of York

Julian Newman
Professor of Computing
Glasgow Caledonian University

Brian Randell
School of Computing Science
University of Newcastle

Uday Reddy
School of Computer Science
University of Birmingham

Peter Ryan
Professor of Computing Science
University of Newcastle

Geoffrey Sampson
Department of Informatics
University of Sussex

Martin Shepperd
Professor of Software Technologies
Brunel University

Michael Smith
Visiting Professor
Department of Computer Science
University College London

Tony Solomonides
Reader in Computer Science and Medical Informatics
University of the West of England

Ian Sommerville
Computing Department
Lancaster University

Harold Thimbleby
Professor of Computer Science
Swansea University

Martyn Thomas
Visiting Professor of Software Engineering
Computing Laboratory
Oxford University

Colin Tully
Professor of Software Practice
School of Computing Science
Middlesex University

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