back to article As hospital-based infections set to rise, best not change the vendor behind the system that tracks them, hm?

Public Health England (PHE), one of the agencies responsible for managing the nation's COVID-19 outbreak, is extending a contract with one of its main IT providers without competition to avoid disruption to a vital disease monitoring system. Since 2015, IT consulting and services company CGI has run PHE's Healthcare Acquired …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    rest my case for in-house development and maintenance for critical applications.

    And pay the galls and dudes accordingly. Working on your own soil.

    And management by peeps that have actual knowledge of the shit that they are managing.

    I manage my own bowl movements, Do You ?

    1. Circadian

      Re: I

      An infection-tracking system that needed to be modified to track an infection... so complicated and proprietary that it would be difficult to move from. I wonder where the approver for purchasing this service works now, and for whom?

      1. Ken Rennoldson

        Re: I

        Ordinarily I would agree, but even if it was easy to move from, right here and now with Covid I would not take that chance. It's not about changing software. It's about the people who use it and changing the way they work. At some point that will be exactly the right thing to do, but if what is in place is working well right now and the NHS is short staffed - why make life harder than it needs to be?

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          Re: I

          In the US it's more about getting reelected, we see that "health" is now "political health" ... given that the UK politics is becoming modeled on the US methods I think we all need to step back from changes to a system that works unless there is scientific evidence, not political evidence.

    2. NightFox

      Re: I

      > "I manage my own bowl movements, Do You ?"

      Yes, though the missus does still sometimes insist on trying to re-arrange the dishwasher before I have to move it all back again once she's gone back to watch Emmerdale.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: I

        For you, NightFox -->

      2. HildyJ Silver badge

        Re: I

        At least I'm not the only one. She also yells at me when I run the dishwasher because it doesn't meet her standard of at least 110% full.

  2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
    Big Brother


    CGI huh? Seems Red Dwarf was quite prescient:

    Cop : [to Sebastian-Lister] Come out of the shadows, Voter.

    Sebastian Doyle : What's the beef? Did she steal your lunch box?

    Cop : M... mm... many apologies, Voter Colonel.

    Sebastian Doyle : You know me?

    Cop : Of course, Voter Colonel.

    Sebastian Doyle : Who am I?

    Cop : You are Colonel Sebastian Doyle, Section Chief of CGI, Head of the Ministry of Alteration.

    Sebastian Doyle : Remind me a little: what do we do at the Ministry of Alteration?

    Cop : You... change people, Sir.

    Sebastian Doyle : In what way?

    Cop : You change them from being alive people, to being dead people. To purify Democracy.

    1. Kane Silver badge

      Re: CGI

      So, what is it?

    2. Korev Silver badge

      Re: CGI

      > Cop : You change them from being alive people, to being dead people. To purify Democracy.

      Do they throw the corpses into the cgi-bin?

  3. AMBxx Silver badge


    Given that the chances of PHE still existing in its current form in 12 months is approximately zero, any significant spending should be on hold.

    1. Persona Silver badge

      Re: PHE

      You may well be right. With the total number of Covid-19 patients in UK hospitals currently being just 1,067 and with only a quite small proportion of the normal "routine" numbers of doctors appointments or hospital admissions being undertaken. PHE with 5,500 employees does look anomalous.

      1. John 110

        Re: PHE

        You do know that the need for public health people isn't going away anytime soon, don't you?

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: PHE

          I think that a steady drip of "X people DIED from Covid 19 today", that later turned out to include people who'd been cured, released from hospital and killed by being run over by a bus probably annoyed people somewhat.

          Counting every positive test done (even multiple tests on the same person) as a new Covid19 case probably also would not have increased public faith in the organisation. Did a case get tested, then somebody went "double check that result", then they decided to use that blood as a test for the three other different tests to confirm that they got the same result? Hey presto, five new Covid19 cases if some of the reporting is to be believed.

          At the moment it appears that data from PHE that is at best badly flawed has extended the lockdown beyond the point measures could have been loosened up quite safely, causing both severe economic damage and untold numbers of suicides of people locked away from people who can't take it anymore.

          If this is proven to be correct in the inevitable post mortem of how well the Civil Service handled things, then it's inevitable that either a very very serious re-organisation is going to take place or a vengeful mob of a small subset of the couple of million people who'd lost their jobs through their dodgy data is going to descend upon the place and burn it to the ground with the staff still inside.

          Hence it's inevitable that a very through re-org and probably a rebrand will be taking place since the people working there at this point probably want it more than the general public for their own protection.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: PHE

            The problem with PHE is that it's a massively centralised body.

            Public Health is best managed locally, on the ground, but local authorities' capacity to do that (despite still having a legal duty) has been hollowed-out because PHE, as well as "austerity".

            The Covid-19 response has shown how utterly wrong-headed centralised management is, and the initial answer was, as we've seen with so-called "testing centres" to do more of the same. Belatedly, the Government seem to be beginning to realise it, but with Mr. test-my-eyes-at-Barnard-Castle-Big-Data-solves-all-our-problems-SQL-is-an-analytic-language still ensconced at No. 10, I doubt that will last.

            1. Peter2 Silver badge

              Re: PHE

              To be fair, the reports I have mentioned may be wrong: given the number of sites writing clickbait for views with no regard as to accuracy it's almost impossible to tell ignorance from deliberate disinformation. We won't know until a more measured post mortem is done on the whole mess.

              But then if the reports are even half true then given the consequences then the repercussions are (rightly) going to be extremely profound for the people and organisations responsible.

            2. Mark #255

              Re: PHE

              For lots of public health, national bodies are the best level.

              I have a professional interest in non-ionising radiation. The National Radiological Protection Board was created in 1970, became part of the (UK-wide) Health Protection Agency, and then part of Public Health England.

              Scotland and Wales both defer to PHE for their non-ionising radiation issues, because the expertise handed down from the NRPB can sit quite happily in one office, covering the entirety of the UK.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: PHE

                Clearly, subject-matter expertise is best handled in the way you describe.

                But you may be looking at public health through the prism of said subject-matter expertise when you describe it as "lots of public health"

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022