back to article Creaky systems 'cost lives': Health secretary Matt Hancock pledges to solve NHS IT woes

Faltering NHS IT systems are "costing lives", health secretary Matt Hancock has said ahead of announcing a further £200m for trusts to create digital testbeds. The former Minister of Fun will take to the stage at the NHS Expo in Manchester this afternoon for one of his first major speeches since taking over from Jeremy Hunt. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    well, theyre saving about 10k a year on what they should be paying me , so its not all bad.

    except for me.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. adam payne

    Faltering NHS IT systems are "costing lives", health secretary Matt Hancock has said ahead of announcing a further £200m for trusts to create digital testbeds.

    OK, so what's your plan? is there a plan? or just another sound bite laden speech?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Its just another sound bite laden speech

      It is after all Matt Hand on cock

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A recent (personal) example:

    Case referred to hospital X by dentist, with (printed) x-ray taken at hospital Y. Paper form, sent by external post.

    Post received at hospital X, probably looked at (no proper record kept), posted second class to hospital Y for data entry, as apparently nobody at hospital X could enter data.

    Two weeks pass, ring up both hospital X and hospital Y. Neither can say where the paperwork might be, or even be certain whether they ever received it.

    Only option was to get a new form from dentist, and hand deliver it in person.

    The original x-ray was digital.

    I'm not sure this is down to money...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Addendum (today):

      Hospital X finally looked at hand delivered referral. Suggested going to hospital Z instead of hospital X or Y, as they have the specialists and the capacity.

      Attended hospital Z. Unable to view x-ray from hospital Y because they cover a different area (CCG) and are thus 'unable to transfer images'. Sensible consultation otherwise. Further images will need to be taken at hospital Z to get around this.

      Matt Hancock does have a point, even if he is a lightweight containing mostly hot air.

      1. whileI'mhere

        Gosh. If only we had a NATIONAL health service. That has always been a fiction.

  5. david willis

    NHS tech

    There is an awful lot of hard work going on to implement new technology into healthcare, large amounts of money being invested to pay for that technology. The real challenge is that the legacy process and procedures within the NHS do not necessarily lend themselves to be implemented in IT solutions. Attempts to change the process or procedure has historically led to resistance that has either led to failure or compromise of IT systems. Add to this complex procurement, dodgy suppliers and local IT infrastructures that simply do not meet modern standards and you have the perfect environment for systems that simply do not work in the way people would like.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: NHS tech

      Agree, there IS a lot of work being done. Though it is certainly still very patchy.

      Over-complex procurement that adds massive bureaucracy without fixing the issues it is meant to (mainly uncontrolled projects "specifying" IT that they know nothing about and haven't a proven need for) is one of the biggest problems throughout the NHS.

      Also still too many vested, local interests blocking the use of standards for services that should BE standard. Not enough sharing of ideas and best practice at a national level.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Modernizing NHS - What will most likely happen?

    Fat fees will end up being paid to consultants & outsourcers, i.e. crapita.

    Changes? More garage sales of patient data w/o permission + more fax.

    Overall, its a tricky problem to solve, because of entrenched work habits.

    Plus heavy workloads! So simply thinking lets throw money at it, is bollox.

  8. Paul Johnson 1

    How to solve this

    The standard government approach to this kind of problem is to hire a big company, set a budget and delivery date, watch the delivery date come and go, throw more money at it in the hope of rescuing the sinking project, and finally publish a report saying that the project was doomed from the start by lack of good requirements. If we are really unlucky then the project will get as far as an attempted roll-out where the entire NHS switches over on D-Day, with total chaos when the IT goes TITSUP. We will never get a working IT system using this approach.

    Instead the central government should set interoperability standards and then require IT suppliers to demonstrate actual interoperability with each other before giving them the green tick of approval. That way each hospital, GP surgery or NHS Trust can update its own computers in its own time, training staff and managing the transitions as they go, while still ensuring that the end result is a broader system that works. That is how the Internet was created, so we know that we can produce a planet-wide IT system like that.

    1. peterhw

      Re: How to solve this

      Makes sense.

      You couldn't dream up the level of 'incompetence' inherit within the existing structure and mind set.

      We recently moved to Scotland from England and it took 4 months to transfer GP medical records for my wife and 6 months for myself. In both cases numerous emails, phone calls, complaints etc and generally speaking nothing happened until - we believe - our local MP wrote directly to the CEO of CAPITA.

      CAPITA in there wisdom had transferred 'paper' records.

      With all due respect to IT gurus there has to be a better system !

      My wife had recently had 2 cancer operations and there seemed some urgency to the matter. Wonderful that 'targets' for cancer patients are being set and generally speaking achieved but ludicrous if the 'basics' are ignored.

      Delighted that my wife had no complications when she eventually was able for her first major checkup. Needless to say a stressful period

  9. Dave 15 Silver badge


    He has to be one of the biggest wastes of space in government

    An online booking system will save lives? Rot, having doctors receptionists actually answer their phones might.

    I guess this will be yet another NHS project outsourced to a French company at £1500 per engineer per day, they will pay a bunch in Bangalore £10 a month, fail to deliver and we will then pay them another few million to cancel the waste of time. You can guarantee what the government will NOT do is actually spend a few of those quid on some software engineers and managers in the UK cutting our unemployment.

    1. maffski

      Re: Plonker

      'An online booking system will save lives? Rot, having doctors receptionists actually answer their phones might.'

      Of course an online booking system means the receptionist has more time to answer their phones.

      My GP has an online booking system. Works perfectly well. Doesn't require central government or NHS to stick it's oar in.

  10. Korev Silver badge

    Not just the UK

    Yesterday in normally organised-Switzerland:

    Doctor sentences me to more physio

    Dr ticks some boxes on a physio form

    I carried said bit of paper to an admin

    Admin enters info onto a computer

    Admin prints out another sheet of paper

    Tomorrow I will hand this onto the physio...

    ...Who will then hand it to his admin who will probably reenter the selfsame data manually....

  11. bilston

    NHS IT hopeless candidate

    I live in Spain.

    The spanish systems all work extremely well.

    Appointments : The system is open 24/7 fully automatic via phone or computer

    Hospital visit test results are available the next day at doctors or on line for patient (they hide nothing tell all)

    Every one entitled to free medical service has a medical card, the card is swiped and checked every time you need any thing. If you dont have a valid medical card you will get no service unless you are insured or have a working credit card. Even the ambulances check.

    We use the same card for prescriptions.

    The card of course point to all your medical info which is all on line

    The medical centre is open 24 hours as is the chemist and the hospital is modern, clean, evem the food is great.

    The local medical centre is the responsibility of the Mayor, we all know him, if any thing starts to go wrong he knows he will get it in neck every where he goes. Its not run by some nameless committee of which no one knows

    Its a question of accountability that the difference

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If Hancock is promising it

    It won't happen or will be an unmitigated disaster.

    He cant even wipe the mud off his shoes.

  13. Elmer Phud

    It's taken a while

    we've not seen one of these for a while.

    They usually end up either scrapped after many changes of firms and guaranteed payouts or so far behind that they are no longer for for purpose - and still paying out guaranteed lumps.

    Ah, if only things were as smooth as Crossrail . . .

  14. peterhw

    I truly believe that the NHS needs a serious change of culture as a major priority.

    Patients need to be able to ‘engage’ with the health providers and the medical team need true support from the management etc. More money for anything won’t solve the key issues – major reform would enable better results to be achieved – regardless of money &/or technology

  15. Mike 'H'

    fax you say?

    I bet their fax machines (if not some awful fax-to-email contraption) didn't catch a cold last summer *cough*cryptovirus*cough*

  16. ecofeco Silver badge

    TITSUP he means.

    I worked on a project for a major U.S. hospital that was successfully completed, on time, in 3 years.

    Over 20,000 users and over 100,000 patients a year and rising. This hospital also has a top tier school and major research center and is spread out over dozens of facilities.

    It can be done, just not by well connected morons.

    This SAME system is also being successfully deployed at other major U.S. hospitals.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: TITSUP he means.

      You took three years to knock something together that does a thing for a single hospital and you think that means you know everything? This isn't the third world - there are currently rubbish little systems like that for most things at most UK hospitals. It's getting all the things at all the hospitals to talk to each other that's the issue, and I don't suppose you'd be any better at that than the rest of us.

  17. Yorkshirefoxy

    Cost of ownership

    Now that IBM have moved over to the Mac, the NHS needs to the same. Lower costs for supporting Macs compared to Windows. The equipment lasts longer. You can then build upon this by integrating IPads & iPhones for recording data on wards for peripatetic services and feed it all into FileMaker. Discuss!

    1. DoctorPaul

      Re: Cost of ownership

      Sounds like moving from one lock-in to another to me.

    2. peterhw

      Re: Cost of ownership

      Surely a significant part of any IT structure has to be somewhat hardware independent of hardware manufacturer. Go back a few years and IBM ruled the world & Apple was for design 'weirdos' (no offense to graphic designers but hardly mainstream IT at the time). Apple products are relatively speaking expensive - i.e.. there are some good Android based tablets at a fraction of the price of the iPad.

      Whatever IT systems gets introduced it has to survive / be supported / available for many years

  18. DoctorPaul

    So NHS goes linux?

    "Rather, the NHS will impose open standards to ensure interoperability, "

    Time to show M$ the door and embrace open standards?

    Well, I can dream can't I?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So more jam tomorrow then.

    We've heard that before.

  20. geefeez

    Adding technology is not even a major part of the answer

    I work in NHS IT and the major issue, and one not approached by Fluff Hancock, is training people to use IT and follow processes. That's where money is already NOT being spent, is sorely missed and where if new tech is added we'll be creating an even huger skills deficit.

  21. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    To summarise:-

    IT in the ITU

    (ITU = Intensive Treatment Unit in this context)

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