I was reading the BBC’s report on the progress of the NHS IT programme this morning and to be honest all seems well. We are informed that this I.T. programme has already delivered £208 million in savings and by 2014 it is on course to deliver £1.4bn savings. This is truly pathetic stuff – the BBC is merely regurgitating NHS propaganda. The FACTS of the matter is that this NHS I.T. fiasco has spiralled in cost from an initial estimated £2.3 billion to £6 billion then to £9 billion and most recently it has been moved up to £12.4 billion. Even this figure is no longer secure and the date of implementation also keeps moving out. The NHS is one of the articles of faith held by the BBC and so any hint that things are calamitously wrong is neatly shielded from public consumption by the State broadcaster. It makes you sick, but not so sick that you would trust the NHS. Or the BBC.

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69 Responses to A SMALL I.T. PROBLEM.

  1. John says:

    Lets see…..10.1billion over budget….minus 208 million in savings…….

    That’s a deficit of 9.9 billion from original figures!

    Now we know why the BBC have no hope of operating in a commercial world when they can portray that as a SAVING!


  2. Jack Hughes says:

    Every single govt IT project turns into a fiasco – child benefits, DVLA, income tax, army payroll, and now this NHS debacle.

    The BBC report looks like a press release from the big cheeses at NHS control – with a tiny bit of google research tacked on the end.

    Over 50% of NHS staff have misgivings about the new system – some already hate what they have seen. Security concerns are a big worry – followed by unusability and unreliability.


  3. David Vance says:


    That’s exactly how I read it – pure PR and zero journalism. Poor stuff.


  4. thud says:

    Criticism of the NHS is one of the beebs ultimate no no’s…it marks you out as an irredeemable people’s enemy etc…well thats me screwed then!


  5. Joel says:

    Your not from Tyrone, per chance?



  6. Ian Wright-Wing says:

    Can I please join your organisation and tediously look for examples of bias in the media where none exist please?

    If it helps, I think Jeffrey Archer is an example to us all and I read the Daily Mail cover to cover every day.


  7. Cockney says:

    “It said that the fixed-price contracts used meant that their costs remained “broadly unchanged””

    so does this mean that the cost overruns get borne by private sector providers and the taxpayer doesn’t have to give a toss? who is implementing this thing?? what’s the structure of the deal??? cause i’m none the wiser after reading the beeb article…


  8. Andy says:

    Technically known as a “fuck-up” but according to the BBC all is sweetness and light.

    Just for a laugh I’d like to make unionization of the NHS illegal and turn every NHS Trust in a limited company.

    Government involvement should be reduced to a minimum, so as not to politicise the NHS for short term electoral gain.

    Catastrophic illnesses like cancer and heart disease should continue to be free should people should at least pay something for routine care and hence have a better appreciation for the true cost of these things.

    That’s my soapbox rant for now.


  9. NotaSheep says:

    It is the claim of being “0n budget” that really winds me up. Which budget? The original budget of £2.3 billion, the revised budget of £6 billion, the next budget of £9 billion or the last budget of £12.4 billion? If as I suspect the system is “on budget” at £12.4 billion then it is over five times over the original budget.

    The BBC are institutionally incapable of criticising the socialised medical system in this country; as someone involved in using this at the moment, there is no way it could properly be called a “service”.


  10. Mailman says:

    The NHS is my kind of place to work in IT 🙂

    Imagine, being able to disappear in to the background, never having to deliver anything on time and to budget and a bottomless pit for spending on rubbish!

    Who wouldnt want to work in that kind of IT environment? 🙂



  11. David Vance says:


    Was that a joke? If not, your time here is over. If so, your sense of humour seems racist to me.


    If you can’t tell the difference between a press release and a news story, I suggest you apply to join the BBC as a journalist, though you may end up having to stop reading the DM.


  12. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    How about learning to spell?

    You have no idea what your dribbling about. Journalism is about looking behind what you are told, not copy-pasting it.


  13. Peter says:

    “You have no idea what your dribbling about. Journalism is about looking behind what you are told, not copy-pasting it.”

    Ah,that was reporting,journalism is about the narrative.


  14. Bryan says:

    Ian Wright-Wing | 16.05.08 – 11:36 am

    Can I please join your organisation and tediously look for examples of bias in the media where none exist please?

    Sure, there’s plenty room. The rest of us will carry on exposing the bias that jumps out and hits us in the face.


  15. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    “that was reporting,journalism is about the narrative”

    Reporting is a subset of journalism.


  16. Iain says:

    To provide some sort of yardstick, can anyone identify a private sector IT project of comparable size? An ATM network for instance?

    £12.4 billion sounds a lot but I don’t have any experience of such things.

    Of course it doesn’t alter the fact that the original budget was way off.


  17. Bored With It All says:


    You’ve made the mistake there of posting a link to anything supposedly ‘anti-Irish’. A serious error, given the fervor that David Vance feels for the place.

    I remember the previous webmaster taking a similar attitude to anything that remotely criticized ‘Scotland’. He would scream his head off at the slightest negative comment.

    So both of the moderators have an inflamed sense of outrage toward anything negative about ‘Ireland’ or ‘Scotland’ but here they are running a site that attacks the BBC.

    Anyone smell a hypocrite?

    And I can’t believe you had the nerve to start shrilling ‘racist’ David.

    Shame on you.


  18. Peter says:

    No NO,When reporters became journalists a couple of decades back,reporting got defenestrated.Journalists became activists.
    Reporters learned their craft on small local rags,reporting on flower shows and missing cats.The modern journalist takes a degree course where the nice Gramscians suck their brains out.
    Now they don’t want to report,but to write seminal opinion pieces.


  19. WoAD says:

    Remember my satirical comment about Alex the other day?

    The BBC isn’t biased, you’re all biased, the problem is you lot because you’re a bunch of daily mail readers, plus everyone is naturally biased so why complain?

    Which is a summary of B-BBC critics attitude.


  20. gunnar says:

    Hi David

    Interesting piece. Could you please point me to those documents stating the latest cost of the project.

    Also, who is actually doing the work? I understand, that the NHS is commisioning and paying for the project, but who is actually doing the work? Another government department, in which case it would be transferring money from the left to the right pocket, or a private company?


  21. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    Peter, that may be the situation now, but I disagree with the whole concept and with the names they give themselves 😉


  22. Terry Johnson says:

    David, I know this is off topic but the following Middle East story from Al-BBC is such blatant Iranian propaganda that it reads like a press release from the mullahs themselves..

    “How Iran pulls the strings in Iraq
    By Roger Hardy
    BBC Middle East analyst

    Iran played a crucial role in securing the recent ceasefire in the Sadr City area of Baghdad, just as it helped broker an earlier truce in the southern city of Basra.”

    Note how the possibility of Iran’s involvement is presented as fact rather than a theory. Hardy’s flawed logic is that the Iraqi army were routed in Basra and only saved by Iranian goodwill. Then, for some inexplicable reason, considering that they supposedly got hammered in Basra,
    the Iraqi Army then attacked the Mahdi Army in Sadr City and were once again saved only by the kindness of the Iranians. Hardy’s reading of the Basra situation is so slanted that it’s actually laughable …even the New York Times (that bastion of leftist opinion in the US) now admits that despite it’s initial problems in Basra the Iraq Defence Force actually put the Mahdi Army in it’s place. With Basra under it’s belt the IDF then went after the Sadrist stronghold in the capital. What has actually been an overwhelming success for the Iraqi military and their US allies is turned by Hardy into a loss and evidence that Iran are the good guys. Al-BBC – the voice of the Mullahs !


  23. thud says:

    Nasty little bunch of trolls out today it seems..why do they bother coming here? or join our organisation (join what?) Listen chaps just toddle off and contribute to guardian comments and leave here to us mail readers (another fav of mine)


  24. Martin says:

    It’s just the way the BBC parrot Government propaganda as facts that is so annoying.

    If you want to see the BBC in action take a listen to Victoria Derbyshite every morning. She will literally SHOUT Government “facts” across the radio and will attack anyone that dare accuse Government “statements” as anything other than facts.


  25. Alex says:

    “It will be at least 2014 – four years later than planned – before a single NHS electronic patient records system is in place in England, say auditors.”

    “Others are less convinced by these timescales. Tony Collins, who has investigated the project for the magazine Computer Weekly, said it was possible that some trusts might not want to run the systems offered to them.”

    “It is clear from this report that the setting of unrealistic deadlines has been very damaging. Slipping deadlines for new IT systems and the premature release of systems that are not fit for purpose has been deeply frustrating for NHS staff leaving many doctors thoroughly disillusioned with the programme.”

    “The Department of Health cannot afford further knocks to the programme’s reputation or our confidence in it.”

    My the NHS is getting an easy ride. Note the gushing praise in the headline: “NHS IT ‘at least four years late.”


  26. Arthur Dent says:

    Alex, the comments you post are not from the BBC they are from the Press Release provided by the Auditors. As far as I can tell there is no analysis by the reporter from the BBC merely a regurgitation of the press release.

    How much do we pay these people, producing a preci of a press release is something that any competent 6th former could do.

    The NHS-IT system is one of the biggest jokes in the IT profession at present, it is hugely obver budget, shows a dreadul lack of security, and functionality and may never deliver anything of value. This is well known in the profession, but simply escapes the BBC Journalist.


  27. Alex says:

    Alex, the comments you post are not from the BBC they are from the Press Release provided by the Auditors. As far as I can tell there is no analysis by the reporter from the BBC merely a regurgitation of the press release.

    A fairly scathing press release. If the BBC was “regurgitating” it without refutation, then that would make the report more anti-NHS than pro. But of course it does more than that and prints others’ comments, such as Mr. Collins’.


  28. The Cattle Prod of Destiny says:

    I can tell you how to run a Government IT projects in a few easy steps:

    1. Find a requirement
    Doesn’t matter what it is, how needed it is (usually very – but it won’t be delivered so hey ho!) or how unlikely it is just find it. Now forget it – it will not be refered to again for the rest of the project’s life …
    2. Find a patsy.
    This is usually a weak and/or incompetant IT middle manager – a civil servant with little or no IT knowledge who just isn’t up to the job.
    3. Waste the patsy’s time
    As much time as is necessary is spent giving the patsy the run around. You stop when he is about to break. There is true skill here – it’s not always easy to tell how easy it is to snap his pathetic back bone.
    4. Replace the patsy with another, worse, one.
    Having shown how bad the available civil servants are at running the project tell the powers that be that outside help is desperately required.
    5. Tender the project but make sure BigCo win.
    6. BigCo hire a load of clever but IT illiterate Oxbridge graduates, send them on a bullshitting course and place them in strategic positions in the project. The purpose of these people is not to advance the project but to identify the stronger civil servant IT nerds and to undermine them. Once sufficiently undermined BigCo puts in its own IT ‘professionals’ – usually nerds with a ‘how to’ handbook. Remember that the ones to get rid of are the one who know what they are about, and there’s a suprising number of them. The last thing you want to do is leave one in place where he can blow his whistle.
    7. Waste as much money as possible and channel it all to BigCo.
    It’s aways worth remembering that BigCo have a store room full of folders detailing every type of IT project possible. This is what they will try to implement not what the ‘customer’ actually wants (assuming they can still remember – see point 1.). Ooh and don’t forget to release this document piecemeal over several years.
    8. Before the Audit Commission wake up, retire and get a ‘job’ with BigCo – not that BigCo trust you or think you are capable – this is your reward for their access to the trough. This is strictly against Civil Service rules but if you are in the position to hire BigCo the rules will not, of course, apply to you.
    9. Spend the rest of your life on a nice little earner as a ‘consultant’ for BigCo – you will be paid oodles but never actually get consulted.

    Job Done.

    Cynical Moi. No, been there – got the ‘gardening leave’ …


  29. The Cattle Prod of Destiny says:

    And another thing.

    If you really want to blow a fuse buy ‘Squandered’ by David Craig. This is a very difficult book to read as it makes one so annoyed!

    Did you know that people die of dehydration and starvation, yes that’s starvation, in NHS hospitals? Apparently the Nurses are too busy to look after their charges. If the Tories were in power this would be daily news, every victim a martyr to Tory cruelty. But no, the BBC, when they bother to mention it, blame PFI.

    So where are the Nurses when their patients are dying? Filling forms according to the RCN. So consider. You are a nurse, imagine Mr Vance in a Nurses outfit 🙂 – no don’t, really don’t, which is more important to you? A persons life or filling in a form? Is your underpaid (pah!) job really worth one persons life?

    This is exactly the sort of thing the BBC should be railing against. Is it? no. I wonder why?


  30. AndrewSouthLondon says:

    “So where are the Nurses when their patients are dying? Filling forms according to the RCN”.”Nurses are too busy to look after their charges”

    Baloney. Doctors do “shroud-waving” and the RCN/nurses do “form-filling” Neither are true.

    Sometimes they are a few nurses short on the establishment for a ward because at any one time, five nurses are on maternity leave, four are on continuing professional development study days, three are taking the piss phoning in sick, two are late due to childcare problems, and one is on long-term sick and sue-ing the NHS in hope of compensation for stress or bullying, and another three posts are being held vacant to help balance the books to meet the “efficiency savings” dictated by Treasury economists aged 23.

    The few that are in and doing the job have to cope with a ward of squalling patients.

    No of course its all about PFI. I repeat “Baloney” You should not confuse professional pressure group advocacy or politics with reality.How do I know? Sadly, direct experience.Its a lot different from debating points.


  31. Martin says:

    If you want to make lots of money from crap Government programmes isn’t it normal to simply give money to the Labour party?



  32. David Vance says:

    Bored with it all,

    As I am an entrenched critic of many things politically Northern Irish, your comment is odd, to say the least.


    Check out “Squandered” by David Craig, it has all the references you will ever need on the gross inefficiency of the State Health Provider, references that the State Broadcaster seems unaware of!


  33. gunnar says:


    Many thanks for your response. I will add this one to my reading list.

    In the meantime, could you please point me to the sources of your numbers and who is actually setting up the IT system. Is it a government agency (in which case the money would stay in the system) or a private enterprise. You seem to have the information. I would need to google and still wouldn’t know id I’d hit gold.


  34. The Cattle Prod of Destiny says:

    AndrewSouthLondon | 16.05.08 – 8:34 pm | #
    with a ward of squalling patients
    And doesn’t that say it all?

    Just one nurse can ensure that all the IVs are full with a quick visual check. How long does it take to replace one? 5 minutes? An hour? And to prevent starvation all they need do is check who is eating and who is not and then deal with the ones that are not. The simple act of following the meal server around and pushing the food closer to the patient so they can actually reach to eat would help. Any halfwit can do that, even the managers.

    No, the big problem with modern nurses is that they see themselves as health care professionals, not quite doctors, but you know, given the training they would be. When in reality their function is to nurse – to feed and clean, to care for their charges. It is the one job they are signally failing to do.

    There are no excuses here. There are plenty of staff in the NHS – they just don’t do the job they are meant to do – looking after the sick!


  35. JJ says:

    Every single government IT project does not fail. My company has implemented 2 successful projects for the Home Office and the CPS. We won’t be doing any more though because the IT has been outsourced to big companies like Logica and Fujitsu and small companies like my own are completely squeezed out. Their procurement policies also deny access to small companies.


  36. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    “the big problem with modern nurses is that they see themselves as health care professionals”

    which indeed they are. They have to know a lot more about the technical side of medicine than even 20 years ago.


  37. Arthur Dent says:

    Gunnar This is a bit old but gives you the main background to NHS-IT



  38. gunnar says:


    Many thanks for the link. Unfortunately, it does not clarify, whether the project is delivered by the public or private sector.

    I was hoping David would share the sources to the numbers he quotes and also shed some light to who is pocketing the money. Perhaps he will have to respond later today.


  39. Anonymous says:

    “which indeed they are. They have to know a lot more about the technical side of medicine than even 20 years ago.”

    I agree with Cattle Prod, what’s the point of having CPD and qualifications and increased technology if there’s no work in them?

    It’s not what you know it’s what you can do. Degree qualifications in this field are unnecessary. PhDs in this field are an utter waste of taxpayers’ money.

    Nurses need to lose their self-importance and just get on with the job of nursing.


  40. Diana says:

    ‘Was that a joke? If not, your time here is over.’

    But didn’t you say on another thread you didn’t stifle debate?

    I read craigs book, it’s more of an over view of labour spending, than about the NHS.

    ‘Did you know that people die of dehydration and starvation, yes that’s starvation, in NHS hospitals?



  41. The Cattle Prod of Destiny says:

    Nearly Oxfordian | 17.05.08 – 12:40 pm |
    which indeed they are. They have to know a lot more about the technical side of medicine than even 20 years ago.

    Quite true, but whilst they are swanning around doing minor procedures who is actually nursing.

    That’s the point, nursing is now playing second fiddle to the aspirations of the RCN and the desire of the hospitals to cut costs, nurses are much cheaper than doctors.

    In the meantime people are dying unnecessarily.

    Statistic of the week: over twice as many people each year die of hospital caught infections as die in car accidents.


  42. Bryan says:

    But didn’t you say on another thread you didn’t stifle debate?

    Diana | Homepage | 17.05.08 – 4:59 pm

    David Vance has taken a considerable amount of crap from people here without banning them. Debate is one thing. A sneering troll is quite another. When we go onto blog sites to debate, we should observe at least the minimum courtesy towards those hosting the sites.


  43. Nearly Oxfordian says:

    “Quite true, but whilst they are swanning around doing minor procedures who is actually nursing”

    They are not ‘swanning around ‘ – they work bloody hard. I know, because I was one of those patients recently.

    If you want to complain, complain about this stupid government who wastes our money on ‘initiatives’ instead of training enough nurses and doctors.


  44. The Cattle Prod of Destiny says:

    Nearly Oxfordian | 17.05.08 – 7:46 pm |
    The government is almost certainly the villain of the piece. But those who work in the NHS are complicit in their crimes. No one should die of starvation in any hospital (unless they came in with terminal malnutrition, natch)

    This has gone on for too long with too many people keeping quiet. Nurses are not angels, that’s just PR puff, they are people with an income to protect and as such are as fallable as the rest of us.


  45. Diana says:

    ‘When we go onto blog sites to debate, we should observe at least the minimum courtesy towards those hosting the sites.’

    Agreed Brian, thats why I raised the issue. Shouldn’t those hosting also show courtsey? Although to be fair Mr Vance did apologise for his comments towards matt.

    Not a bad site by the way, I may drop by now and again to see what topics are raised. I live in Northern Ireland, although I can’t say I know David Vance – maybe he’s my parents generation?


  46. Bryan says:

    Shouldn’t those hosting also show courtsey?

    True, although if someone came into my home just to sling abuse at me I would soon grab him by the scruff of his neck and the seat of his pants and throw him out.

    I’m glad you like the site.


  47. Arthur Dent says:

    Gunnar the project is being delivered by the private sector against a design specification and overall project management from the public sector.

    Much of the delay is being caused by poor attention in the initial contracting and system specification, coupled with multiple changes to the spec during initial configuration. Most of these changes are being necessitated by a failure of the NHS to clearly identify with its user community what the wretched system was supposed to deliver, i.e its basic functionality was developed without consulting the end-users.

    Hope this helps.


  48. Diana says:

    I’m glad you like the site.

    Thanks Bryan


  49. JJ says:

    Arthuer, I recognise this scenario.


  50. Pot-Kettle-Black says:

    Bored with bored with it all

    how on earth you equate comments about a country like Scotland or racism with comments about an organisation (the BBC) frankly beggars belief

    zero logic

    straight past your posts in future