back to article Ex-TalkTalk chief grilled by MPs on suitability to chair NHS Improvement

Dido Harding, the woman at the helm during UK ISP TalkTalk's 2015 mega breach, was yesterday grilled about her move to chair NHS Improvement, the body responsible for overseeing Blighty's health service and also famously clobbered by a huge cyber attack. Speaking in front of MPs in a pre-appointment hearing for her forthcoming …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They really do want to f*ck up the NHS ready for privatisation.

    It's not April the 1st is it?

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      I think my calendar is broken. It's saying it's 18th October 2017 but it definately looks like April 1st.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Except in Scotland

      I despise the SNP but they like Labour have kept the Scottish NHS relatively untouched by privatisation and prevented it being fragmented into CCGs/trusts etc.

      I just don't understand why NHS England is so keen to rush headlong down the privatisation route, divide and conquer certainly seems to be working.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I regret I did not see this one in advance

      It is too late to forward to my MP the official position of TalkTalk expressed to GCHQ as a part of a questionnaire that in the event of a security breach the footie to the customers has priority over the security of the network.

      While it was not her answering, the questions were a matter of policy and she as a CEO was ultimately responsible for that.

  2. Flywheel Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

    Holy sh*t no! Put her in charge of landmine clearance but keep this cerebral cadet away from *anything* to do with health!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

      I agree with the "NO!" thing, but I have to say I'm a bit mystified by this "cerebral cadet" phrase. It seems from context that it's some sort of insult, but - at least for me - it just reads as a weird misphrasing of some kind. Interesting how language usage varies between people.

    2. Locky
      Coat

      Re: NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

      Oh, I don't know

      I mean, she's No Angel....

      Yes. I did come here just for that.

  3. TKW

    NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!

    For fuxache. I mean, really, what are they all thinking?

  4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING

    It is F**ing* October, not 1st of April.

  5. Captain Hogwash

    Computing acronyms

    Dido In Data Out.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Computing acronyms

      Dido In Dickhead Omnishambles.

  6. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

    Just

    NO!

  7. Lysenko

    Someone has been bribed or blackmailed...

    This person is an icon of imbecility. She was directly responsible for the under investment in security (and over investment in junk mail) that made the TalkTalk fiasco possible. Not even MPs could fail to see that. She couldn't possibly be eligible for consideration based on her record, so there must be something else in play.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Someone has been bribed or blackmailed...

      Her husband is John Penrose, who's an elected Conservative MP. So, considering how much of a fuck up Jeremy Hunt is in regards to the management of the NHS, you can sort of see how her appointment came about.

      1. Dave_uk
        Unhappy

        Re: Someone has been bribed or blackmailed...

        Continued nepotism within the NHS will kill this great health service. And now to see it coming from within our government is a sad day...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Someone has been bribed or blackmailed...

          Continued nepotism within the NHS will kill this great health service.

          All hail the NHS! All hail the NHS! Praise be to Saint Nye Bevan!

          I write as somebody whose family members have been involved in the NHS for more than half a century, both front line, operational support and management. All of them think that service delivery is poor, and either have or would like private health cover.

          Nepotism is the least of your worries, the core problem is that as the population has grown rapidly, life expectancy has increased dramatically, and medical science has evolved new and often much more expensive treatments. As a result, the demand for health care absorbs every penny that can be found, and looks likely to continue to do so, despite being higher today in real terms than at any time since it was established. And to make matters significantly worse Gordon Brown lumbered the NHS with ludicrously expensive PFI schemes with a lifetime cost of over £65bn, and whose profile will see NHS PFI expenditure continuing to rise until 2030.

          Beyond those problems, at a managerial level, the issue is rarely nepotism, but a total lack of transparency, low management competence, a culture of bullying, and reward for failure. Our local CCG is in special measures, ranked inadequate by the Care Quality Commission. The chief executive has hopped straight into a better paid job as CEO of a nearby, larger CCG. And talking of incompetence rewarded, you remember expenses diddling Jacqui Smith MP? After she lost her parliamentary seat she was chosen to be chair of Birmingham University Hospitals Trust, in a blatant bit of political cronyism by the Labour party. Tell me how a degree in PPE, a job as economics teacher, or being a failed home secretary qualify her to be chair of one of the largest health trusts in the country?

          Clearly Jeremy Cunt is a useless tosser, kept in post purely to firewall the prime minister as and when things go wrong with the NHS, but the roots of NHS problems go much deeper than his vestigial involvement.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: Someone has been bribed or blackmailed...

            its just "them and us" really isnt it . Once you hit that level and that salary you literally cannot fuck up . If you do it just means your next cash cow gets you at a slightly reduced price while the bruise on your CV heals.

            1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

              Re: Someone has been bribed or blackmailed...

              Once you hit that level and that salary you literally cannot fuck up .

              Not even that. It is a husband/wife appointment on par with banana republics and cleptocracies.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Someone has been bribed or blackmailed...

            On the bright side we are all living longer, giving us time to pay for it all.

          3. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I trust her pay

    will be appropriate to her talents and skills

    1. Alastair Dodd 1

      Re: I trust her pay

      about £3.50 an hour then..

      She spoke up EARLY??? It was Two weeks after the breach, she then downplayed it, lied and obfuscated the situation. Utter stupidity and just the result of the old boys network the Tories are right now, jobs for who you know no matter your lack of ability..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I trust her pay

        It seems like equality reigns in political circles, now it's the old gals and boys club. It is progress of a sort.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: I trust her pay

          It seems like equality reigns in political circles

          No. It does not. The equality enjoyed by a wife of a member of the old boys network is not the equality enjoyed by the rest of the 50% population. As you know, all animals are created equal, but some are more equal than the others.

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Can someone find her a whelk stall, although that might be beyond her capabilities.

    1. hplasm
      Stop

      Whelk stall???

      "Can someone find her a whelk stall, although that might be beyond her capabilities."

      Are you looking to get food poisoning?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think that's a bit disingenuous to whelk stallholders. I wouldn't even trust her to deliver my free newspaper without losing it.

      She could could go into politics, she'd fit right in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >She could could go into politics, she'd fit right in.

        She's a Tory life peer.

  10. Roj Blake

    Former Roles

    She's also spent time in senior roles at Woolworth's and Thomas Cook.

    How are they both doing these days?

  11. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    All aboard the gravy train…

    Harding's mistake was not just in the crisis management (early communication of the breach is good but then leave it to the professionals), but in allowing the data breach to take place in the first place by not giving a fuck about data security.

    Nice to see that's she's being suitably punished…

    Hm, not long till Bonfire Night: Penny for the GuyDido?

    1. m0rt

      Re: All aboard the gravy train…

      "Hm, not long till Bonfire Night: Penny for the GuyDido?"

      I may understand the sentiment, but I think it is a bit much talking about burning an effagy of someone for incompetance.

      Even in jest. Now if it was an effagy of TalkTalk....burn it. Burn it with fire.

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Go

        Re: All aboard the gravy train…

        "I may understand the sentiment, but I think it is a bit much talking about burning an effagy of someone for incompetance."

        Then you have not been to one of the excellent displays in Edenbridge, Kent (scroll down to the bottom of the page for "Trump") where they, quite famously, burn/explode/destroy an effigy of someone for incompetance - usually of quite a large nature (both the incompetance and the effigy).

        Wonderful stuff!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: All aboard the gravy train…

          My favourite is Lewes.

          In the year of the MPs expenses scandal one of the societies burned the usual Guy Fawkes effigy and then, picking as they do their bugbear of the year for similar treatment, blew up a model of the houses of parliament.

          I would not be surprised to see Baroness Dido Harkonnen somewhere amongst those on the receiving end of this year's incendiary social comment.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: All aboard the gravy train…

        I may understand the sentiment, but I think it is a bit much talking about burning an effagy of someone for incompetance.Or poor spelling ;-)

        You seem to be ignoring several hundred years of tradition that does exactly that. There's also a point to be made for precisely burning effigies and shifting to conflict to the realm of the symbolic.

        Mind we're a bit spoilt for choice this year: Treesare, Bojo, the 18th Century Papist throwback aka Rees-Mogg; Jezzer; etc.

        1. m0rt

          Re: All aboard the gravy train…

          "You seem to be ignoring several hundred years of tradition that does exactly that."

          On the contrary, I am not ignoring it. I am stating that I think it is rather an ignorant thing to do. At some point in time slavery was traditional. Thus, tradition <> OK.

          "There's also a point to be made for precisely burning effigies and shifting to conflict to the realm of the symbolic."

          Yes. But when you make this a person, especially a living person, this is a frightening thing to be considered 'ok'. You say that this is shifting it to the symbolic? Well so in our theorectical case you have shifted the blame of a ceo of an organisation to a symbolic representation of that actual person.

          Well, from my perspecitive, at anyrate. Obviously opinions differ substantially. But the fact people think this is ok does equate to a deep uneasiness within me.

          I do think that her actions are villifiable(?) and that she shoudn't be in the position she is now. But I can in no way think that this deserves of a representative of her person burned.

          1. David Nash

            Re: All aboard the gravy train…

            "But I can in no way think that this deserves of a representative of her person burned"

            Burning an effigy of someone is in no way suggesting that the person should be burned.

            It doesn't affect them at all. Your statement suggests she would suffer from this, if it happened.

    2. Kane Silver badge

      Re: All aboard the gravy train…

      "Hm, not long till Bonfire Night: Penny for the GuyDido?"

      GuyDo?

  12. m0rt

    I was at an event, recently, where it was mentioned...

    ...that before the attack on TalkTalk, they were approached by some governemental body about how they would handle a major cyberattack.

    Their reponse mentioned a priority of getting BT Sport back up and running first.

    Now obviously this is hearsay, one from me, here, and you have to take it on trust that I am restating this accurately, or indeed that it happened. And in turn, I have to trust what was stated at an event by a speaker, that this was also stated accurately.

    But if really does fit.

    And it is a great piece of gossip.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I was at an event, recently, where it was mentioned...

      Chasing the money again.

    2. Colin 22

      Re: I was at an event, recently, where it was mentioned...

      Not hear-say, but given as evidence to a house of commons select committee!

  13. Commswonk

    Plus ça change...

    As I said just a few days ago on a different thread on this illustrious organ...

    The above looks all too like a cosy cabal of the self - appointed great and good (by their definition, not mine) looking after their own interests while the rest of us can get stuffed.

    I regard this woman's simply being considered for this post as a gross insult to the electorate / NHS users. If she had any sense of decency she would have slunk off into a dark corner somewhere and stayed there.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Plus ça change...

      It's another inspiring example of taking back control! It just might disappoint some as to who's doing all the taking…

  14. nsld

    How

    Just how is she even being considered for a role which doesn't require the use of the phrase 'do you want fries with that?' is beyond me.

    It wasn't just one breach, she was at the helm for at least three talk talk data breaches.

    How this has even got to a 'pre appointment' stage is another question, what pre requisites does she meet for the shortlisting process for a role overseeing the NHS?

    1. John G Imrie

      Re: How

      what pre requisites does she meet for the shortlisting process for a role overseeing the NHS?

      Being married to a Tory MP probably helps. Allegedly.

  15. B*stardTintedGlasses

    Dear $Deity! Those MPs are actually the ones I am rooting for?! What is happening?

    "The [public] may take from that the judgement of the market was that you weren't a great success. And that your new desire to do good and work in the public service – a cynic might look at this and think, well, she wasn't going to hack it at the top level in the private sector, so she is looking for a cushy government job," he said."

    Yes, yes a Cynic might....

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet another shambles on its way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This cloud has a big silver lining

      Yet another shambles on its way.

      Actually, I doubt it. Due to its byzantine and un-coordinated management structure of the NHS, and the total absence of any effective central control , there's no chance that some government task force will deliver anything, other than line the pockets and flatter the pride of its appointed members. Government of all colours are forever commissioning their chums to write reports, that create a host of new quangos, cost money, but solve and deliver nothing.

      This will be no different. Arguably this is a very safe place for Dido, where no matter what she says or does, it will not have any real world relevance or impact, other than the modest waste of money

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This cloud has a big silver lining

        Hmm I would've agreed once but since Jeremy Hunt has got into and retain office as Health Minister I feel that governmental meddling at the top of the NHS can have real and serious consequences.

  17. m-k

    her suitability for the appointment

    why, what's wrong? Failed at talktalk, now proudly continues the proven track reckord with NHS!

    btw, It's not HER who should be grilled, it's the people who offered her this job!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK NHS?

    I tried looking on https://improvement.nhs.uk/ to see if this was NHS England or some UK-wide body. Eventually, one page (https://improvement.nhs.uk/about-us/support/), at the bottom, suggests the damage Ms Harding can do in this role is restricted to NHS England.

    But the fact that she will feels she should be able to retain private healthcare in such a role should surely raise eyebrows, as her intent appears to limit any improvement to a standard she does not apply to herself. In a public role, that is at least contentious.

  19. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Just... no.

    If they wanted to fuck up the NHS as an excuse to privatize it, they couldn't pick a better person.

    Calling it Improvements is just the cherry on top.

    It must be on purpose. The plan is to wreck everything using the worst person imaginable for each job, and that person doesn't even know what they're really doing.

    Genius.

  20. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    It used to be "Failed In London, Try Hong Kong"

    or FILTH was the advice.

    Now it seems "Failed In Business, Try Health," seems to be the new advice. Not so snappy, still true.

    Of course there is another PoV

    What if she was the best candidate they got ?

    Her and data security?

    Really?

    1. Roj Blake

      Re: It used to be "Failed In London, Try Hong Kong"

      It's almost as though someone is trying to destroy the NHS in such a way that nobody complains when its privatised.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It used to be "Failed In London, Try Hong Kong"

      FITTYHS?

      Failed in Tech, Try Your Health Service.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        FITTYHS? Failed in Tech, Try Your Health Service.

        Hmm.

        Definitely better, but not quite there yet. If only you had a vowel or two after the Y.

        I'm convinced there is a term that will perfectly sum up the PHB who's f**ked up publicly and jumped ship into a cushy little number in some part of the public sector.

  21. Tigra 07
    Facepalm

    I can see it now...

    NHS October 2017 Bulletin: Information on our recent hack

    NHS November 2017 Bulletin: Information on our recent hack

    NHS December 2017: Bulletin: Happy Christmas all

    NHS December 2017 Bulletin: Information on our recent hack

    NHS January 2017 Bulletin: Information on our recent hack

    NHS February 2017 Bulletin: Harding replaced after campaign of harassment

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe somebody who has worked in the NHS would be a better choice?

    Someone with first hand experience of the messed up mish mash of systems that Primary care use?

    someone who knows why information dosent flow properly , why prescrioptions are not transfereed efficiently , who the IT providers are that are taking the piss ....

    Nah forget that , we'll get this woman , with her management experience . what a good all rounder.

  23. hatti

    two words

    NO and NO!

  24. adam payne

    "Dido Harding, the woman at the helm during TalkTalk's 2015 mega breach, was yesterday grilled about her move to chair NHS Improvement, the body responsible for overseeing the UK's health service and also famously clobbered by a huge cyber attack."

    Have I missed something? does she come from a healthcare background or has she been a healthcare professional?

    I assume not so what makes her suitable for this role?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Scraping bottom of the barrel

    Nobody in the private sector would go near her!

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: Scraping bottom of the barrel

      I would like to think that - but sadly NO - they will (political connections)

  26. 0laf
    Flame

    It's not really a surprise that Baroness Harding of Winscombe has reappeared on the governmental gravy train is it. After all politicians need to find jobs for their peers after all. She's not old enough to occupy the benches all morning snoozing before getting her subsidised lunch and afternoon drinkies.

  27. Paul Moore
    WTF?

    Responded quickly?! Did the right thing? How dare you!

    I warned you 12 months before the hack happened (https://paul.reviews/value-security-avoid-talktalk/). You not only ignored me, but lied repeatedly when pushed for answers. You are an absolute disgrace and your involvement with the NHS sickens me. Your arrogance and complacency cost you, TalkTalk and shareholders £60 million; money which could be been saved had you listened from day one. Instead, you remained hidden behind PR/legal; endlessly citing your "best practices" and "squeeky clean" approach to security. When the dust settled, you left with a pay out. Donating to charity is admirable, however donating to people who, to this day, still receive & fall for foreign scam calls as a direct result of your incompetence would be more preferable.

    You deserve to be investigated, possibly criminally, for your complete and utter failing to effectively protect the very customers who contributed to your vast salary & bonus.

    I'd also invite whomever was responsible for your hiring to be investigated too.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interview

    She must have a cracking interview technique.

    "What dido do now?"

  29. beecee

    Pigs and troughs

    That's what comes to mind.

    I opened a phone account for my elderly mother, which was closed at least five years ago.

    Funny isn't it that I still get emails (from TalkTalk) asking me to check the account!!

    Would you really use this company for anything? BC

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Talk about unsuitable for the role...

    You may as well put Gary Glitter in charge of pre-school education.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Talk about unsuitable for the role...

      At least Gary Glitter fessed up in the end.

      This is the same Dido Harding that spouted so much lies, misdirection and inaccuracies that even professional security researchers were confused as to what happened

      This is the Same Dido Harding that thought so little of her customers she allowed a 16 year old script kiddie and his mates to steal thousands of usernames and passwords from her company website

      Lest we forget

      https://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/security-data-protection/cyber-security/the-talktalk-breach-timeline-of-a-hack/

      Anon becuase I'm posting from work. Don't normally bother but if this arrogant waste of DNA gets the job wave bye bye to the NHS

  31. MrKrotos

    Dildo Hardly?

    Oh crap, run for the hills!

  32. David Roberts
    Windows

    All i can say is

    I wouldn't want the job.

    Not sound evidence that anyone both competent and sane wouldn't want the job either, but rumour has it that few if any with senior management capability would relish a job where there was so little chance of making a difference and enhancing your CV.

    Expect similar jobs to go to those on the sinecure gravy train,

  33. batfink Silver badge
    WTF?

    What are the qualifications required for this job?

    FFS. I daresay any of us here would be better qualified to do this than Baroness Harding.

  34. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    OMG!

    Guess the NHS simply can't afford anything better nowadays..

  35. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Art imitating life.

    I'm pretty sure that the mockmentaries W1A and Twenty Twelve were based on how she runs stuff. NHS Improvement? As a job title it's up there with "BBC Director of Better", so to paraphrase Anna Rampton...

    "To identify what the NHS does best and find more ways of doing less of it better”.

  36. Hans 1
    Unhappy

    During the hearing, Harding was also asked if she intended to give up her private health insurance if she took the role, to which she replied she would not.

    Says it all, you are one of us! Please, take the chair, welcome! Listen, this is how we milk the tax payers 'round here: mumble, mumble, mumble IT project mumble mumble mumble cousin, not direct family, too obvious mumble mumble me best man mumble mumble hell of a profit!!!! mumble mumble....

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Errrrr. Wat?

    What total bollocks:

    "I actually think I did exactly the right thing there and what's more, TalkTalk customers told us after the event they thought I, and the company, had done the right thing."

    Name one. Unless they were saying:

    "TalkTalk's only gone and done it, right and proper"

    ...in which case, it wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination that the stick is well and truly being grasped at the wrong end.

  38. sabroni Silver badge

    Dog food her

    Make her use the nhs. Make all mps use the nhs. We'll see how big a priority it is when it's their families needing treatment.

  39. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Hello is that Mr Smith?

    This is your Doctor speaking. It seems that you might have picked up an infection. Can you please cough into the mouthpiece please? Very good. Hmm yes, it would seem that your ticker needs an overhaul. Login to this website please and enter your credit card details...

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    We need Lottie Dexter...

    ...and we need her now!

  41. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Offshore

    Dear Valued NHS England Patient,

    An appointment has been made for you with the proctology team:

    Time: 11:00 am

    Date: LAST TUESDAY

    Please report to BARONESS HARDING PRIVATE HOSPITAL, Bangalore, India

  42. Fred Dibnah

    After reading these comments I'm going to write to Ben Bradshaw to point out how she lied to the select committee about the TT data breach. It's on my to-do list for tomorrow.

  43. NonSSL-Login

    The person who thought it would be a good idea to give her this position should be fired for incompetence too.

    So many reasons not to put her in that position and not a single good reason to do so. I'll have some of what they have been smoking.

  44. Cynicalmark

    Ffs

    Why is it some incompetent tit who couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery gets into senior positions of influence? I have seen this over my career time and time again and wondered why.....it’s not politics and nor is it nepotism. I think they are just voluntary sacrifices for any cockup that occurs. They are willing to take the fall for the ca$h and benefits.

    Wait for the next NHS hack and this flesh buffer will be placed between the public and the head honcho.

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