back to article NHS Trusts in the dark over CfH licence transfer

Local NHS Trusts are still waiting to receive licensing allocation from Connecting for Health to budget for software procurement. They are refusing to sign off new purchase orders with resellers, a year after the coalition binned its enterprise-wide agreement with Microsoft. The three-year £80m EWA was not renewed in June last …

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Holmes

Who cares about Microsoft? It's our money!

I'm sure that 90% of users are just using the basic features of MS Office, and would hardly notice if it was replaced by LibreOffice.

That should add up to a big fat saving.

Now to try and get them all off IE6...

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that's not the whole story

I haven't used libreoffice but if it's as good as open office then not sure it's a good idea, we are talking about business processes here, it could be very expensive to convert. Also, the NHS is not just using Office, it's using SQL Server, sharepoint and the works. We are talking about thousands of servers running all sorts in total. I've rworked there for a while and know few things.

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Most things..

Are pretty simple. So what if the NHS uses SQL Server. That doesn't stop Libre Office (data connectors, anybody)?

The conversion of Word & Excel to Libre Office would be the interesting bit (not sure how compliant macro conversion is in Excel).

Most docs however are pretty vanilla.

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Thumb Up

Good excuse to go to FOS

Linux desktops and Open Office allround!

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idiots

Incompetent government officials who have no idea how software works making important decisions. Of course when you buy in bulk for the whole country you should be able to pay less for your purchases and get discounts.

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Linux

They have to by from M$

Or is this the time for local LUG's to take the CIO's of their local helth trusts out to lunch?

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@idiots

That would be true everywhere in the world except software.

What actually happens if you centralise software for something like the whole NHS is that MSFT sell you a site licence - they price this as number of users * some discount.

BUT number of users isn't the number of people using the software it's the number of employees * some ague over factor of the number that will be using the MSFT software.

Generally the supplier argues that everybody from the cleaners up will be using it, the NHS argues that only a dozen secretaries will - but as the NHS reduces the number they count the supplier ups the price.

For a very-very large organisation it's almost always cheaper for individual offices/hospitals to get their own bulk deals.

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Anonymous Coward

Centralised vs federated

It may or may not be cheaper in terms of licence costs to have a central deal vs. individual trusts ... but now add in the administration costs of managing all those licences in each individual trust vs. managing them centrally. Oh, and at a time of trying to reduce management costs ...

(AC as I am one of those lucky people now trying to keep track of M$ licenses at a minimum, but legal, cost to the trusts I work for)

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Anonymous Coward

The kicker..

Is that deals like this need to be kept going to cover upgrade assurance and the like. That's millions spent per year to 'assure' that the machines get upgrades, or to add a few extra machines to each hospital's estate.

I'm wondering what there is to upgrade to? The NHS probably has all the 2010 stuff licensed and ready, and MS has nothing on the horizon worth negotiating for.. Why put all that money into a black hole?

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FAIL

It's not just the NHS Trusts

I work for a Hospice and we also came under the NHS agrrement. Which has meant we have never had to pay for software licenses. (except for the server and certain products).

Although we will eventually get the licenses transfered to us they are no good for our future use.

As we cannot transfer these to an academic agreement (Charitys come under this)

We cannot take out software assurance as it is more expensive than it is for us to re-buy the software out right.

The little NHS funding we get won't increase to cover any extra we are going to have to pay.

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Flame

Cretins from Hell

That was the term for CfH round our neck of the NHS. There are more fingers in that pie than there is pie. At least there were at the time that I escaped the NHS in disgust at a body that could spend literally millions on a piss-poor web-application that was supposed to show our practice's target results to us for payments, but couldn't even add up the numbers correctly.

The problem isn't Microsoft. Sure, they're more expensive than if you put Open Office in place, but you could use pen and paper and it would still cost a fortune by the time it had been through the upper levels of the NHS. I had the misfortune of sitting in a procurement meeting for an IT support company for our PCT. They spent literally four times what it would cost to hire an entirely new and extra IT support person working in house, on an outside company that did nothing but take calls and then pass them back to our own IT support staff. During the roll out of "The Spine", we had a bod turn up at our practice who was a freelancer, hired by an agency, who was leased to a "freelancing company" who then leased him to ATOS to go round the practices and check if computers were up to spec for the new software. Four levels of profit skimming for a guy whose IT skills were barely capable of checking the processor and ram on a PC which was the extent of his job.

It's frustrating because there are so many people working so hard at the bottom of the NHS, and there are so many bastards at the highest levels skimming money out of it. I still have friends at the PCT level working like crazy to try and save the NHS from the likes of Blair and Cameron.

I could save the NHS literally hundreds of millions if I were just allowed to shoot selected people at the top. The NHS is worth saving, but the DOH needs a good purging.

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Windows

Tied into to MS

The specs for connecting to the NHS spine, which where worked out with partners including MS, insist that the machines are running windows. So that's linux ruled out there, in my experience the PCT's could all switch to Chrome without losing any functionality as they appear unable to send out word documents without gratuitous spelling mistakes and formatting errors so are shying away from anything complicated.

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LibreOffice / NhsOffice

For a fraction of that £80m you could fund a few C++ programmers, some support staff, and a team to assist migration to LibreOffice.

Perhaps that's the motivation behind ditching the Enterprise Wide Agreement - once you collect all those licenses into one bill, it becomes more obvious what they cost, and what that kind of money could buy you.

The NHS needs to realize that software is not like other purchases, especially commodity software like Office. You can build it once, and copy it as many times as you like.

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