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back to article Her Majesty's CIO braces US for Obama HIT

Her Majesty's Government Chief Information Officer, John Suffolk, says the US can expect a tough slog as it implements Barack Obama's Health Information Technology scheme. Speaking this afternoon at a public-sector technology forum hosted by Wyse Technology in San José, California, Suffolk drew on his experience in setting up …

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Now this explains

why we have a public IT system for the NHS that is such a mess. Living in a rural area I am going to have fun today trying to identify all of those languages and map them into the 'many' languages that government portals support.

He might have been a little more honest. A badly scoped, specified, planned and executed information service for the NHS. And stand up who should take the bullet - yup her Majesty's CIO.

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Huh?

He seems to talk an awful lot of garbage, doesn't he?

"Take a single piece of fiber and you'll have 1,900 CDs a second"

Er, what? 1,900 CDs is, what, 1.235TB? What 'fibre' gives you 1.2TB/sec of bandwidth? And where do I go to buy one?

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Ian
Unhappy

150 languages?

So how does everyone communicate on a regular basis if people seem to speak a different language? Do per chance people speak another language as well as English? Otherwise we dont have a country we have a land with lots of different nationalities in it who don't mix.

If this is the case why do we keep it going by setting up the systems to support 100 languages? The country seems to have lost its way on being a collective society......

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HMCIO talks Sense ...which is a Refreshing Surprising Novelty from HMG. Hopefully IT is Contagious.

Clouds are a Secure Environment for Total Information Awareness Systems whenever their Driver and Special Access ProgramMING Defaults are Based on Full Disclosure and Positively Reinforcing Mutually Beneficial Protocols and Algorithms.

That sort of Information, of course, would maybe definitely require further Definitive Explanation with a CIO such as Her Majesty's CIO, John Suffolk.

It is therefore not helpful and can even be considered obstructive to visit the John Suffolk Cabinet Office website, [the "John Suffolk" link supplied by El Reg .... http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/events/tower/john_suffolk.aspx ] which provides no information for possible virtual immediate electronic contact other than a referral to http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/ContactUs.aspx , which in its turn offers sweet FA, with nothing more than a snail mail address and a switchboard number.*

But such is so typical of governments and services in an Information Age which can Analyse Perfectly every Bit of Communication to discover its True Future Semantic Intent by Reading ITs Raw MetaData, to batten down the hatches and hide behind their Failure to Deal with IT, for whatever Reason, be it Ignorant or Arrogant or Criminal or because of their Unsuitablity for Future Office because of their Fear and Self Loathing of Exposure to Past Damaging Mistakes .... thus Concealing and Exacerbating and Guaranteeing further Incompetent Wasteful Delivery of Chaos which John Suffolk himself agrees with totally ..." ... we have no understanding of the consequences of the decisions that we are making."

It is hard not to conclude that anyone in Public Service who cannot be easily reached is in hiding from the public in that which they do, which is an untenable unsatisfactory position/situation allowing for Cynical and Criminal Abuse and Milking of the Public Purse and All with No Greater Benefit to the Common Good?

Such is the Enigma and Sham in Democracy which is really a Guaranteed Failed Autocracy whenever News and Views cannot be Directly Immediately Shared with Whomever one would wish to Share Information. Today, whenever Immediate Contact is so easily arranged/virtually provided, are such Scams and Shams Unnecessary and Counter-Productive....... and would merely be as Fuel causing Dissent and Disquiet.

Get your Virtual Act Sorted Out would appear to be the #1 No10 Cabinet Office Priority for that is where IT is all going wrong and where Everything is Headed.

* Or have I missed his email address, easily found elsewhere. [ Any who may have ventured to communicate with Government on Future Matters will know that they will rarely/hardly ever reply to ensure that they are considered top dog with the information which they are passed/sent, but that only works for a very short while, and then the information flow starts to rebound back on them to cause untold grief and major expensive problems, but all easily fixed with the perfect remedy of Massive Cash Injection into Information Flow Source, which should have been done at the Outset rather than Milked for a More Personal Benefit. Failure at this Juncture Guarantees the Pain and Ignominy of Epic Defeat in the Face of what should and could and would have been Certain Glory.

Crikey, it's Friday again, already, El Reg. Where does the Time Fly? And without IT, what would any of us know about what we should/would/could be doing ....... because we can, whenever One can and the Knowledge is Shared?

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Like, OMG

Now I think I understand how the yanks must have felt the last few years under Bush.

Cringe.

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What colour is the sky?

Having used the NHS Coose and Book system, I would like to know what colour the sky is on this guy's planet.

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Joke

A brief note for out US readers

It is estimated that the UK has about 3000 regional accents and dialects. Some of our counties are pretty big and pretty rural. His statement might be correct in one of the Welsh counties or Yorkshire (lots of small communities with plenty of linguistic drift) for example. Where I live health information is typically printed in 6 languages, other than English.

But as always the only question that matters is "You ain't from round here, are you boy?"

Mine's the one with a copy of "Deliverance" in one pocket and "Straw Dogs" in the other.

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Alien

And the conclusion I draw.

Wyse Technology should have invited amanfromMars as their guest speaker rather than John Suffolk.

He makes far more sense on the subject.

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Anonymous Coward

What language?

Glad to see the American Cringe is still working well among British managers: "Federal"? What in UK is "federal"? No wonder he can not organise the UK systems, not even aware of his own country's organisation. Hundred languages outside the cities? Even in the vast majority of British cities and towns this is far from true outside certain Interest Group propaganda. In the countryside I know, in Devon, Oxfordshire, parts of Wales, North, the only two languages are "high" English (cf. High German) and variants of British dialects or Welsh with all speaking English. As someone else said, the national language is English (as spoken in Britain, not as on American television). I believe immigration for permanent immigrants assumes they will learn the national language.

These CIOs etc. should be required to live and work in small towns well away from London, Manchester, Birmingham and the like and to speak English rather than American, integrate into their own culture and "feel the pain" of the usual, everyday life of most people, using the same internet access, facing the same daily questions and problems, waiting times and physical distances .....

I am lucky: I live in a continental country where, when ill (as recently), the big problem is to hold off the next appointment wih a specialist until I can make suitable arrangements at home and at work, where no such things require the internet (after all, I suspect that even today the majority of people would not use it as a first or perhaps any option - never learnt, no time, no inclination, bad connectivity, suspicion, want to speak to a person, find the forms incomprehensible, inadequate, need help ...). I just see the doctor, undergo his examination, pick up the medicine/go to the physio. etc. and done. Ever tried getting your back injury diagnosed/treated over the internet? How about a blood sample? How about the doctor simply seeing your complexion and posture? As for the forms: usually incomprehensible terminology and often lacking any obvious logic while making unwarranted assumptions about the user's knowledge of jargon, systems etc. or insultingly stupid.

The internet may seem to offer a cheap option, just not very effective, secure, confidential or reliable or, much of the time, comprehensible. Even these wonderful, all-encompassing DBs seem to fall short of the simple card index and patient's file a lot of the time. Good for Microsoft and government ministers though.

I am a highly experienced, working IT nerd with extensive non-IT experience so I have got a highly developed sense of cynicism about the real effectiveness of "technology" in government and management at much other than offering a great alibi for ineffectiveness, gross negligence and idiocy, e.g. the more General Practice is computerised, the less contact with and response from their doctors my family and friends seem to get, even the very ill no longer getting home visits or seeing the same GP twice consecutively; computerised money trading, banking etc. hardly saved us from recent events: indeed, they rushed us faster into them and helped to obscure or enable the sleights of hand that caused them. Why? Too often the designers and implementers lack experience outside their technology and age group, lack realistic specifications or reviews or are, so often, incompetent, lazy and unimaginative, just like the CIO in question.

I believe in good IT as an effective tool. I just do not believe the grandiose claims made for it at all levels by people often too inexperienced or too young to know any other way, especially in the field of national DBs and systems to manage our health and wealth.

Anyway, I fear a really effective, national system: that level of control over knowledge of me by a really faceless bureaucracy is a horrible thought, together with its requirements to inform the system of every change in one's life and the implied control.

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Joke

the languages

Most of the "languages" he refers to are regional dialects.

Additionally, we have European languages, with which we share a rich linguistic heritage.

On top of that, we have the Asian languages, which incorporates languages such as Urdu, Gujurati, Bangladeshi, as well as Mandarin, Thai, Japanese etc. Many of these have common threads, syntaxes etc between them.and thus form a "family" of languages.

Then we have the language of this man, also used by consultants and management types, which follows no syntax, has no grammatical rules, uses a vocabulary impenetrable to those who are not native speakers, and, even when translated, makes no sense whatsoever....

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"just say 'No!' because they can"

No, I say "NO" because I don't trust you with my data!

Of course the fact that I can say "no" doesn't mean that you're going to pay a blind bit of notice, does it?

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Boffin

Re: A brief note for out US readers

"His statement might be correct in one of the Welsh counties or Yorkshire (lots of small communities with plenty of linguistic drift) for example. Where I live health information is typically printed in 6 languages, other than English."

In larger cities, the list is quite a bit longer than 6 languages. I recall seeing a list in an outpatients department where you point to your language if you don't understand English, and that must have had at least a dozen languages, and I imagine that since then (and with the expansion of the EU from 15 to 27 countries) you could probably add another dozen.

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Languages

As reported: "Today it's very, very common in a rural area to speak a hundred different languages - in the city it's always been 150, 160 languages" before asking the assembled CEOs and CIOs, "How many of your websites are in 150 different languages?"

Multiple dialects are not, as far as I can see provided through government web sites. In fact I would be very interested if our government CIO can point me at any significant UK government organisations site (say HMRC?) that provides more than English and Welsh as core languages for *all* of their pages?

Thumbs down for another well paid government consultant.

Could we have a new emoticon, say two balls hanging down - clackers (for anyone old/sad enough to remember)?

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Happy

AC@12:19

"In larger cities, the list is quite a bit longer than 6 languages"

I've no doubt of it. I live in a relatively small town in commuting range of a big city. I mentioned it as I'd be willing to bet the level of ethnic diversity all the NHS copes with is substantially bigger than that handled by our American chums. Although a CIO not understanding the differences between accents (we have lots) languages and dialects is bit worrying.

This also demonstrates the kind of big systems issues that don't really exist in small organisations. A proper system should pick up web site and document changes in English and trigger re-translation requests in the other supported languages. It should tell you, not the other way round. Of course weather the NHS actually works like this is another matter.

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Stop

150 languages?

I've written code for NHS IT systems and none of it supported any language other than English. Not even Gaelic was supported despite it being for NHS Scotland. At no point did the specs or the architect that wrote them suggest a second language was required, let alone 150 of them.

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Flame

I can see how this guy got his job

talks the same quality of crap as a gov minister.

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