back to article Thought NHS Digital's wind-down meant it would stop writing cheques? Silly you. It's gone on an IT buying spree

It may be winding down as a government unit, but NHS Digital has not stopped its tech spending, signing up suppliers for around £37m in work for the coming years. NHS Digital has been the main national body responsible for delivering IT strategy, while NHSX, formed in 2019, was intended to "lead digital transformation in the …

  1. katrinab Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Did anyone else read the headline and think it was about the NHS paying their bills with obsolete paper cheques, rather than about them spending money on stuff?

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      They write cheques to buy fax machines...

      1. Paul Herber Silver badge

        ok, clever clogs, you tell us how they can send out the cheques without a FAX machine!

        And they can get a free backup of the cheque!

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          You send them by mail.

          Paying in a cheque by taking a photo of it is a fairly recent thing, and it generally isn't available on business accounts.

          1. Paul Herber Silver badge

            You could use your fax machine to order an Uber to take a messenger boy to the bank to pay in the cheques.

            I'll patent that idea. (mutters - do we rounded corners on the fax machines ...)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @katrinab

      No.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Digital needs to be – should be – absolutely at the heart of everything we do in the NHS,"

    That's put me right. I was thinking medicine needs to be - should be - absolutely at the heart of everything they do in the NHS. You learn something new every day.

    1. Rob Davis

      IT helps administrate treatments

      Agree: a computer isn't going to cure someone. Medicines, surgery and other professional care will.

      However, IT is an essential instrument in helping administrate all of the above: appointment bookings, patient self-service such as prescription ordering, analytics for resource planning. All to get the best value from efficiencies.

      As for these spending rounds, I would think these would be applicable under the new organisation. If a need for them was identified, I would want to think that need would still be the case after the reorg.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: IT helps administrate treatments

        By which logic, toilets are the heart of the NHS.

        See how long you can go without a 'dynamic cloud strategy to leverage data' compared to how long the patient lasts without peeing.

      2. dogcatcher

        Re: IT helps administrate treatments

        From memory the NHS ran faster and more efficiently before computers were invented

        1. BenDwire Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: IT helps administrate treatments

          Given that the first electronic computer was invented in 1945, and the NHS was created in 1948, your assertion cannot possibly be true.

          /pedant

          (But I would agree that a bit less spent in the back room and a lot more spent at the cutting edge* would improve things for patients considerably)

          *pun intended

          1. katrinab Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: IT helps administrate treatments

            Maybe so, but there were no computers around when I used their services in the 1980s.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: IT helps administrate treatments

        I might have excused her without the absolutely and only one of either needs or should. As the quote stands, however, it seems that her focus is in the administering rather than the medicine. Admittedly administration is her role but St Edward's Hospital looms rather large.

        Even worse, lurking in the background is the suspicion that "digital" isn't about administration but about data fetishism or maybe about bypassing those medics with on-line self-service diagnosis.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: IT helps administrate treatments

          As someone who work for IT in the NHS I find the statement troublesome. The 'patient' should be at the heart of what we do in the NHS. Everything else is just enablement for better healthcare.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      @Doctor Syntax.

      You beat me to it, that was exavtly my thought.

      The NHS (and other gov' depts) remind me of a kid who has found a bag full of someone else's cash outside a toy shop.

      Though, of course the kid won't be lining up future board seats.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I got made redundant from NHS Digital...

    ...after many years of service in the NHS in one form or another. One of the best things that's ever happened to me! I just feel sorry for some of the poor sods left in Exeter.

  4. HenryCrun

    The break-up of the old Regional Health Authorities into the "wild west" management of the NHS has got a lot to answer for. Granted that the old model had its problems of one sort or another, but we did not have stupid issues where a GP cannot get their patient's results because the hospital is in a different commissioning group despite it being the closest hospital to the surgery.

    Today we have the freedom to purchase just about any IT solution we care to, despite that it doesn't integrate with anything else or share a common coding structure. There are at least 4 medical records coding systems in use and there is no one-to-one data mapping between them. It's just good money being poured down the drain.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      But the old system would have been really difficult (or at least obvious) to privatise.

      Now you can transfer an NHS primary care provisioning facility into being a self-managed autonomous treatment center owned by a special purpose corporation with scarcely a yawn

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      The problem is that the old NHS just wasn't fit for purpose.

      It was caught up in some outdated notion that it was about caring for sick people, instead of it's true purpose, funnelling money into the pockets of pals of the Tory party.

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        > of pals of the Tory party.

        of bureaucrats/administrators.

        Not political; parasitical.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hospitals are not part of commissioning groups though so not sure where your story is coming from.

  5. dieseltaylor

    overseas

    I have noticed in many many areas that some countries do things better than the UK. However the idea of adopting working solutions from another country seems to be an impossibilty.

    Unless of course it's from the US and provides lots of loot to interested parties . And it is unlikely to be the best process available.

    I live in France. The health service runs very well and my carte vitale ties all my medical records together and used at the pharmacy and the dentist.

    A friend who for three years had been seeking a NHS solution to a pain in his leg had it sorted out in two working days here after visiting a nurse in a tiny village who arranged an immediate appointment with a specialist. Another friend had a whistling heart valve identified on a first visit.

    Seven minutes a patient for GP's - here it is 30 minutes and I book them online choosing time and date. Never been more than 4 days hence.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: overseas

      If the system works better in France it may be because they spend more per head than UK - of the order of £3700 to our £3000 (adjusted for PPP)

      France has more hospital beds per capita than UK, a few more doctors per 10,000 and so on.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: overseas

        So the solution to the NHS is identity cards and making people speak French ?

        "Pas de Problème"

  6. Dante Alighieri
    Megaphone

    Deck chairs

    Get your fresh deck chairs, fully portable - place anywhere on deck.

    Enjoy the spectacular views of the approaching glacial calves!

    Free drinks with all 5 captains at sunset!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Deck chairs

      The White Star is announcing invitation to tender for contract deckchair movement services.

      No previous experience of deckchairs or ships required

      Having been to same school as captain an advantage

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cloud solutions

    There are a lot of issues where the answer could well be better "in the cloud"

    I'm suspicious where the cloud seems to be the object and then they try to find what they can put into it.

    Just because something is the latest thing that doesn't make it automatically the best thing.

  8. batfink Silver badge

    £56M for "transition"?

    That's a nice wodge of money to make sure stuff still happens while the name change from "NHS Digitial" to "Digital NHS" is going on.

    1. R Soul Bronze badge

      Re: £56M for "transition"?

      Look on the bright side. If Dildo Harding was managing this transition, it would have cost at least £560M and the powerpoint with the new name would have got lost somewhere in the cloud.

  9. hoola Silver badge

    Management Speak

    "the NHS to make the best use of cloud technologies in pursuit of our collective objectives for improving the provision of health and care systems."

    £10 million just for that, it delivers nothing useful......

    Well other than profit.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Management Speak

      It's actually a string of buzz words of the kind that gets written to apply for or justify getting big chunks of dosh. It serves to reassure the funders that something very modern and cutting edge is being done to justify the money. It's Bafflegab but with an up-to-date shell.

  10. Y Gath Ddu

    Not that much really

    That kind of money only buys you one thousandth of a Track and Trace system these days

  11. teebie

    "And it really does give us that chance to make real what we say and put digital at the heart of everything the NHS does"

    This is best read while imagining someone jabbering with terror in their eyes, because they don't understand what they are saying.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Government Don’t Understand IT

    The government and its leaders of dept do not understand IT

    They are IT illiterate

    They should leave it to IT people to get the NHS house in order

    How many IT systems do you really need ?

    It is scary how procurement is handled in government dept

    I listened to R4 and they discussed the shipping industry and the gentleman speaking hit the nail in the head

    No government could handle the complexity, it takes a family run / owned company that pivot quickly to run big organisations

    Government involvement always ends up as fubar

    I know a lot of people who do good work for the NHS IT and it is not their choice to shove it in the cloud, they would prefer it on premise under their control.

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