back to article BZZZT! NHS e-Referral system flatlines again

After finally staggering to its feet the woes surrounding the NHS's £131m gaffe-tastic e-Referrals system have continued, sources have told the Register, with more outages and a growing list of unresolved problems appearing in the past week. In an email seen by The Reg, users have been told that "unexpected" issues have …

  1. SecretSonOfHG

    Ah, the smells of excessive use of client side JavaScript in the morning

    "It also advised people to switch to Chrome in order to reduce the current four-minute loading time to 50 seconds"

    Is this a classic case of "we only support IE" in a world where even the very same people developing the app are not using IE (older versions of IE have an awfully slow JS intepreter in comparison with modern Firefox/Chrome interpreters)? Or a classic case of "we don't test with real world data loads and it works fine in our machines"? Or yet another classic of making a freaking lot of ajax calls to retrieve small chunks of data from the browser and "it works fine in our 10Mbps LAN hence it should work equally well over high latency low bandwidth WANs because it is a browser app and somehow that magically sorts out all problems"? Or a combination of all three?

    Or perhaps to summarize: junior inexperienced devs working with technically clueless managers that don't understand what they are doing?

    1. x 7

      Re: Ah, the smells of excessive use of client side JavaScript in the morning

      its probably because - as I've pointed out before - most GP surgeries are locked on IE8/9 for compatibility reasons with other Spine programs

  2. DocJames

    It is astonishing...

    ...that nobody in the media has yet covered the need or want for this.

    It was wanted by the government (and civil servants) in order to remove control from doctors. It has achieved this. Sadly it seems to have not given control to anyone else, and in the process damaged patient care. (It's also removed control from patients - previously they could say to their GP "I want to go to hospital X" if they felt strongly - most didn't and just want the closest - and the GP would sent the referral to the appropriate place.)

  3. Crisp

    With a price tag of £131 million

    You'd expect it to scale properly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: With a price tag of £131 million

      Oh no John! You want scale? That'll be a chargable extra.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge


      That price tag, if I read correctly, was just for cleaning up the mess.

      The price of the initial system was in the billions, as are all government IT projects.

      And, like all government IT projects (especially in the UK it seems) all those billions are spent on something that never actually works.

      Meanwhile, you can order a sandwich online with an app that has better security than some banking portals and must have cost a piddling 10 grand to make.

      Edit :

      I was wrong. After spending a few minutes searching El Reg for the actual price tag of the system, it would appear that it is indeed £131 million.

      So rejoice ! You've gotten failure for an order of magnitude less than you could have paid !

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "unexpected" issues?

    You mean they didn't expect anyone to actually use it?!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SecretSonofHG - Not just reliance on IE but OLD versions of IE - the trust I work in doesn't support anything higher than IE8, with many systems only being compatible with even older versions of IE.

    The entire trust now has Chrome installed for anything that requires a modern browser.

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      "The entire trust now has Chrome installed for anything that requires a modern browser.

      Are you telling me that despite all my efforts to avoid feeding the Google machine with any of my personal data these idiots are spaffing my most sensitive data to the beast of Mountain View?

      OK , I might not be in the area concerned but given the level of competence locally I am not reassured that the same thing is not happening here.

      This lot need a swift kick up the arse if they can't do better than this. Apalling.

  6. Peter Prof Fox

    Someone take a snapshot

    This is a front end for a booking system. Even for a single page app WTF is being loaded into the browser. Can somebody post the browser code (eg via Firebug) and we'll no doubt be gawping at the awesome architecture and implementation. These people need some independent eyes on their uselesnesses.

  7. adam payne

    I would expect a new system to have a few issues to begin with but for £131 million I would expect it to work with the systems in place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Working? Not in the original specifications guv! That'll be a change to specification at extra cost, if you actually want it working

  8. x 7

    current list of KMOWN bugs

  9. Hi_o

    Software development, usability and common sense

    Somehow the three items hardly if ever get along very much. Most often 'fit for purpose' is what the initial developer pushed to the master repository without review, testing, rework and documentation.

    These days we believe anyone can create proper working software whilst reality appears to prove that idea wrong on most occasions. Anyone with a couple of years of bad Java coding can get hired through an agency and take a seat on a Scrum team and mess about.

    Software development is very specific and very hard to get right. Please leave it to specialists. Haggle a bit on the quote and go for it.Good chance it'll deliver something at least half usable, possibly even deliver on some of the requirements.

    If everyone is extremely lucky, a working solution is delivered in less then a year. Alas more often then not, budget overruns are not related to the sad quality of work delivered. Come on, this is our money being spent! Time some politicians got ROI for a KPI!

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