back to article BCS to review NHS IT for Tories

Shadow health secretary Stephen O'Brien MP has commissioned an independent report from the British Computer Society on what English health service IT should look like in five years' time. Beyond that patient-based records will form the basis of NHS informatics, no assumptions are being made, according the review's chair Dr …


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  1. dave hands

    easy solution

    Two words - Open Source.

    'nuff sed!

  2. Alastair Smith

    Oral evidence

    Two tablets, three times a day.

    Mine's the one with the prescription in the pocket.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @easy solution

    And exactly what solution have you just provided? You said two words, that refer to a method of generating code. How will those words create a new infestructure for the largest public service in the country? One could venture to say that you havn't provided a solution at all just a meaningless set of words.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about...

    ...making sure that shit consultancy outfits like Crap Gemini and Couldn't-Give-A-Toss Origin aren't let anywhere near it.

    Also, no company cars for IT consultants working on NHS projects ; as far as the NHS is concerned the only acceptable company vehicle is an ambulance. Lease or buy your own bloody BMW's.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I assume they charged a suitably sky high price for a fluffy bit of paper, like everything else they do.

    More tax payer money wasted looking into tax payer money waste that is the NHS IT.

  6. Jon G

    If only...

    We'll only have a clear IT policy for the NHS when there is a clear idea about what the NHS is for and what its meant to be doing. The reason for previous IT projects going awry is due to them constantly moving the goal posts and the current utterly shambolic state of the organisation.

  7. no one

    what a shambles

    me personally id change the NHS into a state backed medical insurance company that does nothing other than printing cheques to patients when they need treatment, letting the patients take the cheque anywhere they dam well want including abroad or one of the current private providers, sell off all the NHS providers of care, leaving all the providers free market and left decentralised and choosing their own IT at a business unit level, and the crap providers can close as is essential in the free market to ramp up efficiency through competition, don't suppose that will come out of the review

    neither will sacking Patricia Hewitt from the board of BT who are screwing up but making lots of money on the current mess in IT at the NHS

    neither will avoiding hiring consultancies like PA to do the procurement like the Govt has for the national ID card IT fiasco, do I really have to do a critique to expose how bad this procurement exercise has been?

    Oh and there is a fundamental problem with the BCS review, its being led by folk who are primarily medics, they have replaced the piss poor consultants like Richard Granger, they've realised there is a problem talking to the sales dominated leadership of the large IT consultancies, and they've gone straight to medics with a special fucking interest, I tell you what you need some people who have spent their entire working career designing and implementing successful IT on the review not just fucking medics with a few hair brained ideas, and you also need some people who know how its done in the rest of the world having it dominated by Brits is a big mistake

    Also I think "we are aware of the benefits to be gained from patient centred records. We believe that such records, appropriately designed, properly implemented, and made available to those providing health and, where feasible, social care would enable the improvement and efficient management of patient and service user outcomes." shows bias, the best solution to medical records is probably the patient carrying around their own health records on a USB stick or similar, suitably encrypted, rather than the Government holding it all centrally or in Fujitsu data centres opps sorry BT or CSC datacentres thesedays, cannot keep track of the suppliers telling the centralist nutters of the NHS to stick it, patient held records also addresses the issues for folk who travel a lot these days including internationally

    The BCS is a failing professional organisation where the vast majority of practioners even at the most senior level in their business do not bother to join it, leaving it dominated by academics and wannabe politicians, and medics with a special interest by the looks of it, not a good place to get a sensible review of nhs IT, I repeat you need some people who have spent their entire working career designing and implementing successful IT - some people with substance not the presentional sales element of the business or the political crowd

  8. John Imrie

    A solution

    Store all patient records local to the GPs surgery.

    Allow access over an encrypted VPN from other GP's, Hospitals etc.

    Give hand held devices / laptops to Paramedics etc that communicate to the system over the current 2 way radio system. Note make sure this data is encrypted.

    When a patient is admitted to a hospital the hospital can query/update the distributed database on each of the GP's systems.

    When a patient moves there records can be transfered to the new GPs system.

  9. Steve Button Silver badge


    "More tax payer money wasted"

    Presumably the Tories can't waste tax payer money as they aren't (yet?) in government, are they??

    @"dave hands"

    4 words. Don't be a twat.

    'nuff said.

  10. Analogue

    @ no one

    "the best solution to medical records is probably the patient carrying around their own health records on a USB stick or similar, suitably encrypted"

    Yeah... because when someone's admitted to A&E at 1 o'clock on a Sunday morning (peak time for admissions due to pissheads falling over, bottling each other etc), they're really going to have the stick on them, thus allowing quick access to their medical history. And there's no chance at all that large numbers of patients will lose them, either.


    Anyone who's ever been near a Medical Records department should be aware at how inefficient the current paper system is. Notes have to be physically transferred - often by taxi believe it or not, which costs ridiculous amounts - and aren't available when they're needed. This can mean the difference between life and death for a patient in need of fast and precise treatment.

    You can criticise the implentation of IT projects within the NHS and you'd have a point but the case for needing an electronic patient record system is pretty much watertight in my opinion.

    Doctors need the best possible information on new patients as quickly as possible - it's no longer realistic to rely on already knowing every patient and their entire family like back in the "good old days" because people move around more nowadays and doctors do too.

    If a patient is out of the area covered by the Primary Care Trust they're registered with and is admitted urgently out of hours, a nationalised electronic records system is the only thing that will let clinicians act with full knowledge of the patient's medical history. What precise form that takes is of course a matter for debate.

  11. no one


    "@ no one" nope your wrong

    you are looking at the world through the eyes of the nhs

    that failing organisation that is the worst provider of health care in the whole of the developed world

    uk healthcare needs a much more fundamental sorting out

    we are currently the laughing stock of the world

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Dragging the NHS into the modern world

    For anyone still in doubt if the NHS needs computerizing try popping into your local hospital and investigate what it is they carry around in second hand shopping trolleys from defunct supermarkets.

    Your medical history might be in one of those - oh so secure - Lloyd George envelopes!

    Paris - because even she realizes a computer system can be made more secure than a paper envelope protected by an octogenarian receptionist

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ "Also, no company cars for IT consultants working on NHS projects"

    what would you do about the NHS Connecting for Health / NHS IT staff who get company / lease cars then?

  14. RW

    Costs vs benefits

    Seems to me that computerizing medical records is another example of a solution staggering around the landscape looking for a problem to fasten itself to.

    Privacy, security, confidentiality should be the paramount goals of any health record system, even if this results in inconvenience. Such is life — you don't get something for nothing, everything has its price, and the price you pay for maintaining confidentiality is some inconvenience.

    While the present system of supermarket carts full of paper records may appear to be insecure, I have more faith in octogenarians pushing carts around than the consultancy idiots who will devise a system that jeopardizes the integrity of *everyone's* medical records by, for example, devising an unencrypted system that is wide open to access from the internet at large.

    At the same time, any decent system design must assume that leakage ~will~ occur, so another large issue is controlling and limiting the information retained in order to minimize the impact of leakage. At a guess, records relating to medical conditions now resolved should be purged from the system, only records of existing and ongoing conditions being retained.

    Another requirement: the patient controls access to his own records

  15. Adrian Midgley


    1. A FLOSS solution deployed in a health service of comprehensive coverage, free at the point of access* exists.

    2. The problem with successive closed source failures, and eventual closed source successes (there have been some, partial ones) is that each time something goes wrong, and/or each time some new company shark gets to sit next to a PM or NHS high admindroid on a sofa for a while, all that has been done is lost and from scratch we are started again. For cost and with loss of function.

    That is what FLOSS has thus far.

    Try for a copy of an application suite which had been called VistA for very many years.

    * those are the 2 key differentiators of the NHS, and of the US Veterans Administration Health service.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re Dragging the NHS into the modern world

    The oh so secure Lloyd George envelope can't be copied on to a memory stick by an overpaid, stupid and arrogant nhs contractor and be 3 times round the world before anyone can do anything about it. Consequently, the envelope is more secure.

    But you won't be able to understand this, because there's no money in it for you.

    The receptionist can (and they often do) give away your details, whether they are in an envelope or a computer system.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No one expects the British Computing Society

    what a bunch of tossers, I doubt they know one end of a ROM chip from a front side bus.

    As long as the National Death Service never stores one iota of data on me, I really couldn't give two figs what they do. Oh as long as it doesn't cost me any money in any shape or form, parasites.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @No one expects

    The BCS aren't techical idiots, they just mostly consist of academics with little or no experience of the IT industry or real-world deployment and maintenance of systems. This is also why they come out with such bizarre statements about the conditions of working in the industry - they don't.

    AC because I have to deal with a lot of them.

  19. call me scruffy

    A professional organisation with no practical experience...

    Just Like everything else in New Britain then.

    Mines the one with the '97 NuLab manifesto in the pocket, it's good for a giggle.

  20. Anonymous Coward


    Ha... the very same guys who provide MS Word application forms that aren't even laid out in A4 size (letter) which demonstrates they don't know how to set up a PC.

    These are also the guys who sent out members email address to everybody else by accident, and then made themselves look even worse by saying they forgot to use BCC field (anyone worth their salt should realise that bulk mail via bcc is not a good idea)...

    [Paris, because she understands computers]

  21. Mike Banahan

    Why aren't there consulting software engineers?

    If you go into the civil engineering profession, there are consulting engineers who you can hire to keep your contractors honest. They'll watch the contractors like hawks to make sure they aren't cutting corners or stitching you up in other ways.

    Software development is still in the dark ages on this - surely a large project like connecting for health should have a whole bunch of auditors and inspectors whose only job is to check that the contractors are doing what they were contracted to do?

    Why doesn't the software industry yet have that kind of specialist at work?

  22. Mark


    So they are going to recommend a solution that is roughly 10 years out of date and only something that somebody in academia would think is a good idea because it is completely impractical in the real world hey......

    I don't know what is worse, the current shambles, or letting the BCS have a say.....

  23. Matthew



    How do you know? They're going to conduct a review. Yes it might come up with a recommendation for a 10 year old solution but maybe it won't. It is ridiculous to prejudge the report on the week the review is announced.


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