The first quarter of 2007-08 witnessed several milestones for the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), says a report from the NHS. The NHS has singled out picture archiving and communications systems (PACS), choose and book, and the electronic prescription service as areas where significant progress has been made. Recognition of …
Choose & Book
I used Choose & Book about a month ago. Selected the date and time that suited me.
Got a letter two weeks later saying my chosen appt was not available and giving me a completely different date and time. Hmmm.
Has someone forgotten to look at the back office processes? Tsk.
Having recently left a position with the NHS where I was closely involved in the rollout of the NPfIT programme, I can assure you that not everyone see it all so rose-tintedly.
Morale within the teams responsible for making it work is at an all time low, and people are desperate to get out, because what is being asked for, and what is being promised by those who really don't have a clue, is ridiculously out of touch with what the final systems will actually be capable of. Management decisions are being made without consultation with those who actually know what is going on, and I would be amazed if brain drain dooms this project as those who are employable elsewhere jump ship. As better staff are drafted in from other technical areas, service levels are suffering to a point of one former colleague describing a crucial helpdesk service as 'like the blind leading the blind'.
Does that sound like a successful project to you?
re: Choose and Book
One of the (many) problems with the business model of Choose and Book is that the booking period is rather longer than the notice period for leave built into staff contracts. Thus when you book an appointment you cannot be sure that there will be anyone there to actually see you.
To counter problems with appointment booking our local hospital has instigated a scheme of using choose and book to arrange an appointment time for someone to ring you to arrange an actual appointment. That process is their emergency system!
surprisingly good news
I think my colleagues may find it hard to recognise the NHS in this.
Perhaps it is some other nation, a different sort of health or an alternative use of "service" which describes the organisation whose huge ambitious IT project is going so well.
If so I expect everyone in it is acclaiming the clever people and virtuous companies running and providing the IT.
But in the real world....
I'm sorry, but this isn't what I recognise as what is actually happening.
See my comments at
as I'm not sure if I can repost without breaching someone else's copyright and doing irreparable damage to my blood pressure
Morale was so bad at one of the main NPfIT contractors two years ago that permanent staff were bailing out, going on long-term sick leave or begging for reassignment elsewhere, just to get away from this huge mess of a project. Meanwhile, occasional culls of contract staff were happening in order to reduce the financial haemhorrage that the principal contractor was suffering as a result of ill-defined specifications, poor communications and general management cluelessness on both sides.
It was obvious to most of the engineering staff from day one that this thing was hugely over-ambitious in terms of deliverables and timescales. However, it took a few months before it also became obvious that general poor management was going to make it even worse. It was bearable for a while, but I finally bailed at the end of 2005. Not one of the first to do so by any means, but almost certainly nowhere near the last either!
It might surprise you to know that the Electronic Transmission of Prescriptions system is about as popular as Margaret Thatcher at a TUC meeting. As someone who works in pharmacy IT I happened to ask a local surgery when they would be up and running with it. 'Never, if we have any choice' was the swift reply. I see they've done a typically good job of getting the doctors on side then...
The other good thing to note is that 'the spine' (what the NHS is cleverly calling its server infrastructure) was inaccessible for a whole day recently so Electronic prescriptions simply didn't work. This is fine in phase 1 where paper and electrons run in tandem but when they roll out phase 2 and there is no such thing as a paper prescription what, prey tell, happens when the NHS finds itself spineless again? With the average surgery pumping out hundreds of prescriptions per day, the inability to access them, even for a few hours, could potentially lead to many thousands of people being without life-saving medication.
There's only one thing I'd less rather leave my life in the hands of than a computer and that's a team of NHS managers.
Some other country
" think my colleagues may find it hard to recognise the NHS in this.
Perhaps it is some other nation, ..................... which describes the organisation whose huge ambitious IT project is going so well."
Well, many other countries I know had these healthcare IT systems deployed a long time ago so perhaps it's a historical piece.