back to article NHS quango fatcats spend £2m tax dosh on iPads and iPhones

Government health chiefs have admitted to spending millions of pounds furnishing bureaucrats with Apple iPhones and fondleslabs. Taxpayers forked out more than £2m to buy iThings for the staff of NHS non-departmental public bodies, which are arms-length government organisations more commonly known as quangos. Dr Daniel …

  1. Sir Sham Cad


    How much did they spend on equivalent Android devices?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android

      The execs, consultants and assorted worthies demanding the things probably didn't even realise there were such creatures as Android devices.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android

      Buy iPads and there's not much to decide about. Mini or Air, capacity, that's all.

      Buy Android and you have too much choice and a complex process to determine which one is fit for purpose.

  2. chris 17 Silver badge

    Bought not leased

    At least they purchased them and are not paying extra to lease them like the PFI contracts the NHS is so fond of

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bought not leased

      What's the lifespan of a tablet computer, 3 years tops? the battery will start to be crap around then.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What's the lifespan of a tablet computer

        That doesn't stop the morons who are getting them for making a shit deal tho.

        It usually boils down to how much money the leasing company is willing to shove in their pockets.

    2. Les Matthew

      Re: Bought not leased

      I think you'll find that it's the government that's fond of PFI, not the NHS.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better Value

    I'd love to see a breakdown that proves that iPads et al are more efficient and cost effective that old fashioned pen and paper for them. They said something similar about the new e-rostering software, still largely touted (as it was expensive no doubt) as a massive time and money saver, but totally not fit for purpose. Most places pay lip service to e-rostering and then do the rosters by hand anyway because the system doesn't handle contracted hours for certain staff, shifts like nights not running into days (e.g. Rostering staff for a Sunday night followed by a Monday day shift!), let alone skill sets. I am sure the iPads are likewise lusted after and talked up, but then not used for anything important at all.

    1. returnmyjedi

      Re: Better Value

      A hospital my firm deals with needed tablets to provide a means for patients to order meals. The only two requisites were WiFi and a web browser. The IT department recommended BB playbooks as they were less than one hundred notes and did the job. The mandarin behind the other overruled the recommendation and ordered several dozen ipads as otherwise "the reputation of the hospital might be damaged if they don't have premium products". Didn't stop the food being complete pig swill, regardless on what they order it via.

    2. John 98

      Re: Better Value

      Hmm - a bum on a seat costs a six figure number p.a. nowadays, so - provided the users are achieving anything useful at all (I too have doubts) - the ithingy only needs to add 1% or less to their output to pay for itself. Perhaps the most pertinent question is how many data collators, support staff and other lesser minions have ithings (and sensible uses for them)?

    3. Graham O'Brien

      Re: Better Value

      "I'd love to see a breakdown that proves that iPads et al are more efficient and cost effective that old fashioned pen and paper for them"

      Done that - 4 years ago. I agree that iPads are not adequate as the speed of entry using a keyboard is nowhere near a pen paired with either paper or a tablet. My figures show that my WinXP tablet/pen combo in use for 6 years in an NHS environment (inc a set of replacement batteries, you can do that on good machines, sorry fanbois) saved slightly under £2,000 simply by being able to annotate MS office docs using Windows Journal and the pen. It took into account paper and toner costs from printing reams of board meeting papers, admin staff time spent photocopying and collating. Did not include my time being able to prepare on the train into work, which was regarded as a bonus. Device used an encrypted partition for data (TrueCrypt, of blessed memory) because some of us in the public sector understand data security.

      As an added bonus, in one meeting I was chairing, I had to tell a fanboi to put his iThingy away as the clicking from typing using the on-screen keyboard was distracting the other members. Epic win!

      1. VeNT

        Re: Better Value

        Work for several trusts as part of a shared service. We've about 300 iPads we bought last year waiting to be allocated.

        That's about 2/3 of the total order.

        The rest have gone to directors etc who use them for meetings etc and are quite happy with the saving.

  4. Red Bren

    How many of these devices will be left on public transport?

    1. Dr Insanity

      How many of these devices will be left **unencrypted** on public transport?

      Fixed that for you

    2. John 98

      A fair few, of course - it's bound to happen (I was the guy who handed them out). The replacement cost is annoying, but peanuts in the great scheme of things. As somebody pointed out, the issue is what data is on them. Hopefully none

  5. TechicallyConfused

    "NHS England has spent a total of £1.2m on Apple gizmos, purchasing 115 iPads and 400 iPhones in the financial year of 2012. Since then, it has snapped up another 150 iPads and 1,900 iPhones."

    That is almost £500 per device - that's not much of a discount even if they are buying latest models and one would hope they wouldn't need to do that, or have the high storage models.

    But then this is public sector buying so it wouldn't surprise me to find out that they paid all that money for iPhone 3G's and original iPads, second hand and slightly cracked.

  6. Frank Bough

    A droplet in the atmosphere...

    compared to all the money pissed away on blackberry servers, windows licences and fucking Lorenzo over the years. Big woop.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A droplet in the atmosphere...

      you know lorenzo? can you tell me how to get it working? I get "the file objsafe.tlb is needed" :)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's nice of them..

    ...obviously the more phones they have the more opportunities WE have of phoning them up at MIDNIGHT for some out of hours treatment....<cough, cough, splutter, wheeze, etc>

  8. IHateWearingATie

    Huge story really. ..

    Organising spends money on end user IT kit.

    Shocking. Awful. They should use quills and their own blood for ink.

    For fcuks sake - some commentards seem to think the public sector should run on good will and fairy dust with nothing spent on anything ever.

    "We pay these people wages ? How dare they waste tax payers money - they should do it for free out of their own good will"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Huge story really. ..

      The story is not that they got a tablet, smartphone, laptop or computer. There are perfectly valid reasons for all or any of those.

      The criticism is that they wasted lots of money on overpriced/inferior devices that cannot do anything that can be done on Android, Windows or even Blackberry devices.

      It's off the market now but the 2012 Nexus 7 was about £200. The Chrome browser in Android is *the* standard. The app store has a vast number of apps and licencing is simple and prices are generally cheaper than the Apple equivalent if not completely free.

      The iPad mini of that period was far more expensive, less powerful or flexible and the security defaults were poorer as was the security of the fully locked down device.

      The only selling point of an iDevice in a work environment is that it is the "device to be seen with". It shows you are important and have arrived..

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So the IPADs were well over £1000 a piece probably over £1500, while the phones were probably about right assuming they haven't also come with a hefty contract.


    1. Nya

      They used a consultant to purchase them is how.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        He's not a consultant, he's an employee. He bought his own iPhone out of his wages. And saved £235k of public money when he purchased the phones, compared to previous spending on Blackberries, androids etc which were non-compatible and quickly becoming obsolete. He's not a fat-cat/pe- pusher/any-other-cliche-you-wish, but a nice guy who loves his family, lives in a tiny back-to-back and works extremely hard for his pittance public sector salary. How do I know? He's my best friend.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          i think my sarcasm detector is broken

    2. davidp231

      If they have current models, which I'm sure they will..

      Minimum of just under £550 a pop.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I suppose the "company car" of the NHS is a BMW too.

    They could have gotten Android Samsung gear for less than half the price.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Boomers

      Neither of the NHS Trusts I work for have any BMW "company cars", they are either Renault Zoe (electric cars) or Nissan Micras.

      I think a more fruitful place to look for BMW company cars might be in large private sector organisations. However, I do acknowledge that they are not spending public money, only some of the profits generated when people hand over their money for whatever goods or services are being touted.

  11. Steve May 1

    Ah progress

    So that will be a grand per user for the shiny toys and a fiver per user for training. Net result: thousands of "deer in the headlight" faces and surrepticious reversion to paper and pencil.

    (Also sudden upturn in support staff suicides.)

  12. Mark Exclamation


    Karl Turner, Labour MP for Hull, ....."At a time when the NHS is in crisis....."

    And the NHS was NOT in crisis when Labour was in power? And Labour was not in the least bit instrumental in creating this crisis?

    Of course not! Everything looks different from the other side! They're ALL a bunch of hypocrites (from both sides of politics)!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hypoctites!

      Both myself and my wife are regular hospital outpatients, between us typically 12 appointments a year. Over the past few years the strain is becoming more evident, it's not unusual for appointments to be cancelled a few days before or even on the day due to lack of staff, they don't have the staffing levels never mind trying to cover sickness and holidays.

      Around the time XP eol was reached my wife was in getting tested, the machine monitoring the sensors (XP based) kept freezing. No technicians were available and there were no spares, I helpfully suggested rebooting it and it worked for a while before happening again. This kept happening and ended up meaning my wife had to stay in 9 days instead of 5 due to lack of captured data. Of course 2 of those extra days were due to lack of doctors at weekends.

      Regardless of your political bias you can't deny that the NHS has got worse under the conservatives, who have after all been in power for almost 4.5 years now so any legacy "crisis" should have been dealt with by now.

      1. smartypants

        Re: Hypoctites!

        Labour: spend more than we dare tax to impress short-sighted people that we care.

        Which is the party that promises good public services funded entirely from tax receipts rather than a mortgage?

  13. MarkSitkowski

    QANGO isn't spelled QUANGO, it's an acronym for "Quasi Autonomous Non Government Organisation".

    Ah.. how soon they forget...

    1. Kane Silver badge

      QANGO isn't spelled QUANGO, it's an acronym for "Quasi Autonomous Non Government Organisation".

      QUasi Autonomous Non Government Organisation

      See how flexible the english language can be?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple PAID Mayo Clinic to use iStuff

    Did NHS ask for free stuff, or was it just a boondoggle for IT purchasing dept?

  15. Neil Hoskins

    Oh Dear

    So you'd prefer our health services to run on paper, would you? This pathetic feature reminds me of the boss I had who didn't want CD-ROM drives on the PCs because we would just use them for playing music all day.

    1. wikkity

      Re: Oh Dear

      Or people would install every single bit of shareware distributed with PC magazines. Of course, nothing sensible permissions would not cure.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perspective please....

    No, I don't expect the NHS to run on pen and paper. An iPad for a nurse to update a patients chart - if it improves efficiency/accuracy or whatever then great. An iPad for a doctor to view a CT scan wherever he is without having to go to a radiology department? Great... very unlikely, you'd have to rub Vaseline over a medical grade monitor to make it look like an iPad screen, but the concept is there.

    The gripe is about who is getting the iPads; people that look after the business side of the NHS. They will most likely have a laptop, this is more than capable of doing anything an iPad can and more, this means that the iPad is surplus to requirements and this is why people are outraged. If someone can tell me what business function you can do on an iPad that you can't do on a laptop 'll be happy to hear it.

    The iPhones? Fine. Email on the move is becoming more and more essential and whilst there are cheaper phones that do the same thing for the level you are looking at not much cheaper.

    NHS spending can be ridiculous. I work for a company that provides X-ray and CT equipment. A certain NHS trust purchased one of our top of the range machines which included a 30k add on.

    When I returned to this place some time later I noticed that the add on we put on was performing wildly out of its ranges. I asked why they hadn't reported this problem, the response was "We don't use it, we do not have anyone here qualified to read those types of x-rays and never have" So I of course asked, "Why was it purchased then?" "Because the boss liked the look of it in the catalogue"

    At this point I said my goodbyes before I said something that got me in trouble.

  17. sqlartist

    My Wife is one of those....

    Hi Jasper, my wife is one of those getting the iPhone and iPads working for the NHS and I can't even get a bloody life changing brain operation due to funding.

    One good thing is the external attached keyboard they give with the iPad is quite simply the heaviest, most clunky thing I have seen in 20 years of IT. I get some pleasure from seeing her carry it around.

  18. paulf

    So what angle will Jasper take on this story with tenuous link to Apple?

    "NHS quango fatcats..."

    Ah, answered in the first three words of the title!

  19. Beech Horn

    £113,743 on 65 iPads

    "£113,743 on 65 iPads" please tell me they were diamond encrusted?

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