back to article NHS slow to react as Windows XP support nears the end

Many UK NHS Trusts are at risk of missing the extended cut-off deadline for Windows XP support in April 2015, according to the results of several Freedom of Information requests by software firm Citrix. Although the government acquired a support extension, the FOI request found that the trusts have been slow to make the …

  1. MJI Silver badge

    XP Support

    Is easy, done a few now

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00



    1. Neil Alexander

      Re: XP Support

      When it goes EOL then the security updates will inevitably dry up too, so this won't really help a lot. Besides, the issue is more about support contracts - when something goes horribly wrong and the NHS phone Microsoft for help, only to be told that they are running a teenage operating system that they are no longer prepared to support.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: XP Support

        For me it is OK, I have dual boot.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Maybe if companies such as Citrix stopped irresponsibly WASTING PUBLIC MONEY by abusing the Freedom of Information system for speculative information pertaining to what they see as sales opportunities, the stretched NHS resources used to supply this information could instead be used for something useful - like a Windows client upgrade.

    Just a thought.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: FOI FFS

      I would argue that asking if a public sector body has its plans in order to migrate away from a soon to be end of life operating system is a valid use of FoI.

      Disclaimer: I work in the public sector, and I get my fair share of sales droids abusing FoI to try and create sales leads.

      1. tin 2

        Re: FOI FFS

        Logged in to write the same. Agree entirely. Maybe public bodies need to start using a policy of not doing business with organisations that waste public money in this manner.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: FOI FFS

          Oh what disasters await those still running XP. Obviously we are only concerned for the public good and not what we want to sell you!

          As I've said before most places I've worked don't apply the security patches anyway and all of them are doing OK (well they're banks so they're impossibly compromised with debt but I don't think we can blame XP for that).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ach, just pay MS more money

    It's not as if it's the trust manager's money, is it? There's always a few million down the back of the sofa to grease the correct palms (and collect a tasty dinner on the way). Maybe just fire a few more nurses and cleaners to pay for it. Can't make any cut-backs for the big, important decision makers!

    They have had years to ditch MS's closed source implementations and get on to open standards. They have manifestly failed to do so. Public bodies should not be using any implementation of a non-free, non-open standard.

    1. HippyFreetard

      Re: Ach, just pay MS more money

      I agree. The NHS should be looking into moving away from lock-in. I see this as a perfect time to roll out a proper Open Source solution across the NHS.

      The UK government have declared OpenDocument as their official format, the NHS already use a combination of Red Hat and Oracle for most of their database work, and there's no reason why this couldn't be extended to the rest of their system, perhaps eventually replacing Oracle with an Open Source database system.

      As a taxpayer-funded service, they should at least be looking into this sort of thing as a matter of course, hopefully they won't be just buying the first shiny box a vendor plonks onto the desk.

    2. Soap Distant

      Re: Ach, just pay MS more money

      Unfortunately, some of the clinical systems suppliers have designed their software to only work with MS closed source implementations. That kinda ties the hands of IT services within the NHS with regard to open standards.

      I suppose that raises the question of which clinical systems supplier to use, but that would open a whole new can of worms. There seems to be no unified policy within the NHS or gov to nudge such suppliers down the open standards route.

      Just some fine words that butter no parsnips.


      1. Adrian Midgley 1

        Open Source in the NHS 2001

        We were working on it then, but the Blair Microsoft Project intervened. Now NPfIT has mutated to CfH and ruthlessly faded out in standard fashion the work is picking up again.

        And as noted, FLODS replacements for proprietary systems are happening.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As an NHS helpdesk jockey, worked across several organisations, the different trusts have completely independent approaches to this. Some are very proactive and have teams dedicated to getting hardware upgraded. Others seems to have a much more lackadaisical approach, and there is often some ancient hardware that barely runs Win XP smoothly. Others are already up and running with everyone using Win 7 via VMWare.

    It can all entirely depend on the organisation that provides the IT services and support, and whether they deem it necessary to spend money and manpower on the upgrades. There seems (from my lowly vantage point) to be little to no motivation beyond the individual trusts to actually get upgraded.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And some have an not particularly old, and perfectly functional MRI machine, for which the control software was written for 2k, but works on XP. (and not on vista, 7, 8, 10 etc)

      The manufacturer has ceased trading, and no new software is available. Should the trust in question:-

      1) Replace the XP box, and the entire MRI machine. The cost is multi million.

      2) Keep the XP box and MRI Machine, but take it off of the domain and configure it so that results are saved to a network share and deny any other network access to or from the XP box.

      3) do the option above, and then deny that you have any remaining XP boxes on your trusts network.

      Replace MRI Machine with various examples of expensive stuff such as ultrasound machines, CAT scans, AED's that need firmware updates, you name it.

      To be fair, it's been a few years since I've worked in the NHS, but I doubt that the issues have changed much!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Headline too long

    You could really have stopped after the fourth word.

  6. Captain Scarlet
    Paris Hilton

    Last XP machine

    I haven't swapped my last XP machine over yet (Its turned off unplugged in a box), I use it to troll anyone who asks how when we will be migrated away from XP. If they really annoy me the ancient Windows 3.1 laptop gets thrown at them (With the help of the PFY, its heavy!).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Harley explained the general operational environment for IT systems in the NHS, where tight budgets are the norm."

    Sorry, but NHS are some of the best funded IT departments I work with, and I work in a great many sectors. The problem is the way the money is spent, and quite often the management structure which forces staff to overspend in order to avoid being blamed at a later date for inadequate systems. The other large problem is the bid nature of their projects, where companies are required to bid for an implementation without any knowledge of the existing infrastructure. The cheapest bid wins, and then the discovery and design work starts. This leads to extremely specific bids which don't match requirements because the requirements are not known. The NHS then has to pay whatever is required to implement to actual requirements and so the game goes on.

    We need to stop blaming budget and start blaming people and process. Some longer term thinking would sort out the NHS IT and probably reduce budget by a factor of 10 or more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: budget

      Sadly, at least from the outside looking inwards, this seems all too true. Obviously I don't work for the NHS so there's your disclaimer to take this with a pinch of salt, but the "we must spend it or they'll take it off of us" attitude seems to be rife within the NHS.

      Many areas of the NHS, who we are led to believe are critically underfunded, are somehow able to spaff hundreds of thousands of pounds on hardware at financial year end.

      From the reseller end it's often along the lines of: "We might be doing a project at some point in the next year. We think we might need some hardware like X but we're not really sure. But we have this money to burn so you know what if X isn't in stock then anything similarly expensive would also do just fine. Chances are we won't even do the project so they probably won't even be needed but if they don't work then we'll just hide them and buy some more out of next years budget."

      Naturally all of that is communicated by the purchaser who doesn't really have a clue what the hardware does ands has just been told "Get some of these by the end of the week." and the last minute - not to mention the vague - nature of the tender makes scoping it properly impossible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: budget

        And those things they buy at year end often sit in stores for several years until they are out of date...

  8. Cuddles

    More modern than I expected

    I worked in a hospital records department for a summer job a few years back. Part of the system still ran on a BBCB, and there were still quite a few 486s running Windows 3.11 scattered around the place. Anyone worried that something as recent as XP hasn't been abandoned yet really has no idea what state NHS IT is actually in.

  9. adam 40 Silver badge

    What about embedded systems

    I have a number of pieces of test equipment still on W2K let alone XP.

    I would not be surprised if NHS have loads of bits of kit like this.

    You don't upgrade it though - it just works. (Well, you can't anyway - it might be a 486 with no RAM expansion capability.)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    easy job --- not

    One simple way to focus Trust exec boards about the need to fund a Windows 7 migration project would be to add a question about Windows XP (and earlier versions) onto the IG Toolkit that all NHS organisations have to complete yearly. I see having Windows XP of more of a security risk than whether my job description is incorrect.

    And to all the people who think that moving to Open Source is going to be a breeze, we have procured many clinical systems over the past five years and none of the manufacturers software would run on an open source platform, let alone client. When scoring a tender response IT questions take a back seat to clinical needs and clinical safety.

    The only way that this could ever be considered would be for the government to only allow solutions that work with open source onto the frameworks, however as most clinical systems aren't on any framework this is never going to work.

    I work within an acute trust and we are almost 85% of the way through migrating off of XP, we have over 300 clinical systems that have to be considered, some from manufacturers that have since gone to the wall, others that were developed in house many years ago by a development team that no longer exist. I would love to work in an organisation where you can count the systems on both hands.

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