back to article NHS IT fiasco workers threaten lunch-hour revolt over job cuts

IT bods working on the car-crash NHS patient records project will stage a protest during Thursday lunchtime over compulsory redundancies at their employer, CSC. As Computer Sciences Corporation's contract with Blighty's health service grinds to a messy end, the Virginia-based firm announced it will axe 500 jobs in the UK - 30 …

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Anonymous Coward

Perhaps if they'd done their jobs competantly they would still have them.

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Unhappy

Note the difference

between staff and the idiots you want to attack. 'They' are not all one uniform mass. And the axe is more likely to fall on those least culpable, yes?

And if you're going to rail against the incompetent, at least use the correct spelling?

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Anonymous Coward

Sorry but private companies working with other private companies tends to work perfectly fine.

Private companies working with the public sector doesn't. I don't know what the mentality is with the public sector, but at times they behave like children and devious ones at that.

An example: public sector bod knows a payment for a milestone is due for payment, so they start asking for changes or extra things to be delivered at the last minute or "you won't get the money".

Perhaps if the requirements for required system were well specified and the specification didn't keep changing then they would be delivered on time. But I think anyone who hasn't worked on government projects has a lot of learning to do.

Also, lets not forget that such work goes out to tender and the cheapest quote tends to get chosen. If the project deliverables changes there are often payments required for the changes, sometimes these are a great way of getting more money than the original tender.

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Unhappy

@AC 07:40

"private companies working with other private companies tends to work perfectly fine."

You're having a laugh aren't you? Have you not seen the mess that resulted from the British Rail privatisation?

I've worked for many private sector companies and seen the interaction of stakeholders, both internal and external. Vague and mutating requirements, missed deadlines and blown budgets are not unique to public sector projects.

The only difference between the public and private sector is the need to keep the shareholders sweet, and if that means brushing failures under the carpet or rebranding them as "successes", that's what happens.

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Anonymous Coward

Let me fix that for you

Private companies working with the public sector doesn't [work]. I don't know what the mentality is with the private sector, but at times they behave like children and devious ones at that.

The private sector like to nail down every minute detail in the contract and, when they decide to interpret a reasonable request for a minor variance (such as a re-ordering of 2 elements in a GUI) as a major change charge through the nose for it.

My experience from the Public Sector side of it on contracts which are small compared to the NHS one.

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Re: @AC 07:40

I came here to say this.

I can only assume AC either has no experience of these relationships, or has experience of managing them (resulting in a lack of honesty with themselves and others about the outcomes because it's in their own best interests to present a front of "success"), or they're just too stupid to recognise failure, or they are either a board member or shareholder in such companies and believe that the management tiers who are presenting these outcomes to them are doing so honestly and accurately.

So, either inadequately experience, inadequately honest, inadequately intelligent or inadequately skeptical.

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FAIL

So, let me get this straight:

They're protesting at losing their jobs by stopping work. Right?

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Facepalm

Better than that; they're doing it in their lunchbreak!

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Anonymous Coward

Govt IT - Don't work for it

As far as I can tell every major government it project turns into a complete clusterf**k. Top tip, find jobs in private sector. Sure it might not pay quite as much and the work might be a bit harder, but private enterprises have slightly more clue what they're doing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Govt IT - Don't work for it

Problem is these are private sector workers, it seems that the same old names keep getting contracted to make fuck up after fuck up for government projects.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Govt IT - Don't work for it

To be fair, having spent a lot of time in the NHS IT project some parts of it (by suppliers other than CSC) are very successful and are well received by the trusts. Add to that the fact that suppliers don't get paid until they deliver and the whole thing is far less of a mess than the media would have you believe.

The key problem has been trying to do too much at once, and in the case of CSC selling a system which doesn't actually appear to exist....

Anon because...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Govt IT - Don't work for it

Don't limit it to IT jobs. Everything the government touches (at least on this side of the pond) turns to bovine excrement almost immediately.

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Re: Govt IT - Don't work for it

You've obviously never worked for Crapita then...

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Pint

Taking a Lunch hour is a protest?

Maybe these guys need to worry about the wretched hours required first.

It may be Wednesday, but I'll be "protesting" at the pub.

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FAIL

Walking out in their lunch hour?!

Er, what do they usually do in their lunch hour? Work?

Sorry, this is pathetic. It's like holding your breath in front of a disconnected webcam.

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Anonymous Coward

Unite useless as usual

I am sure CSC are trembling in their boots at such a militant act as not being at their desks at lunchtime.

Still, I suppose its one step further than they usually go whereby they simply agree with the company.

Comrades, I think your union subs are better spent down the pub...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unite useless as usual

Yes, I am not sure the point is being delivered when they schedule a sit-down over lunch hour. What is the difference between a lunch hour work stoppage protest and just going to lunch?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unite useless as usual

Why strike at lunch time? Because it stops managers arranging for you to work through lunch instead. It used to happen to me when I first started work, and it's been quite evident during 'downsizing' exercises at work. A manager will book you for a meeting over your lunch break, meaning you can either attend and hope to keep your job, or decline and run the risk of being the one to get axed. Managers also love to dump work on people's desks just before lunch, or at the end of the day, just before you go home, to see if you're stupid enough to stop and clear that work, for which you are not going to get paid.

It is an abuse, and a form of bullying, but the company profits from it and you suffer. It's when you learn how to avoid getting lumbered like this: How to make it look like you're hard at work when you're not, have a meeting booked already that is actually down the pub, and keep track of all that 'unpaid' overtime to claim it back as part of POETS day.

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Anonymous Coward

Not unusual

Often when redundancies are needed the ones who are happy to go are not necessarily the ones the company wants to lose.

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Holmes

How do you find work for 500 slightly-useless people?

A mega-project that requires 500 people in the UK alone was surely going to expend most of its energies dealing with the exponentially-huge cross-chat and not *really* produce anything useful. With their residual skill set of being able to participate in meetings, give them work in call centres!

India awaits!

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Anonymous Coward

@ Enver Hoxha

@ Er, what do they usually do in their lunch hour? Work?

Well, they're running systems used by a large number of NHS trusts (And GP's). If shit hits the fan would you expect them to stop for lunch?

I can't imagine any operational team would down tools and go to lunch during an outage?

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Facepalm

Re: @ Enver Hoxha

You'd set it up so some people go to lunch and then when those people return, the others go to lunch, obviously.

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Re: @ Enver Hoxha

That's some protest. Hope those people never get to take charge of school councils.

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Pint

Get off your lunch box

I have seen a lot of these sorts of protests recently, indeed where I work some people walk out every day at lunch time for an hour......

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Bronze badge

"Right, lads, it's one o'clock so down tools it's off to the pub for a quick.... Erm.... protest..."

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FAIL

Something this big.

When you have something this big then the majority of your code crunchers should not be outsourced.

This just means with that many people they lost the vision. Without knowing the application myself many times senior programmers have divergent ideas and want to start a new fork.

What should have been done wwas make 3 different programs with 3 senior programers for each fork and the one who finnishes first gets the bonus pay at completion.

OVer 20 years I have seen abuse of code. Code doing things it was not originally meant to do.

WHen you get bullies to try to use code in that way then you will fail. I suspect this is what happened.

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Anonymous Coward

Why does the Govt keep employing the same firms for massive projects....

... As a taxpayer I need to know

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Re: Why does the Govt keep employing the same firms for massive projects....

Maybe they are the cheapest?

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Re: Why does the Govt keep employing the same firms for massive projects....

Because they are the only firms that can afford to bid.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why does the Govt keep employing the same firms for massive projects....

How many firms do you think are out there who can cope with projects like this?

Not many is the answer.

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Devil

The thing that strikes (no pun) me about all this is....

HOW HARD CAN IT BE???? I mean FFS, even if they started the project again using untrained gibbons, they should be able to knock this out pretty damn fast. If it's this much of a shithole, I'm presuming the data storage design is crap, the infrastructure is crap, the business logic is crap and the interfaces are crap, etc etc so they should shout "STOP!"

As for going to strike, will anyone notice given that they appear to have done cock all for the past 10 years?

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Re: The thing that strikes (no pun) me about all this is....

In most large government projects, the design etc most probably WAS fit for purpose for the requirements as stated at the time. But the requirements change constantly, so you'd need to re-do the design every few weeks. With that changing, when can you ever get the work finished? I'm no fan of CSC by any means, or any of the big outsourcing companies, but the way most government departments change their minds every 5 minutes means thay can't really deliver to spec in time & within budget when the spec changes so much

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xyz
Devil

Re: The thing that strikes (no pun) me about all this is....

I've worked on a shed load of gov projects (by myself) and have never failed to come up with the goods on time and in budget even in the face of rampaging requirements changes and completely stupid clients who wouldn't know their arses from their elbows and couldn't be arsed informing you even if they found out what the difference was.

I've worked on a shed load of gov projects (with the "big boys") and who have ALWAYS failed to come up with the goods on time and in budget every bloody time and the problem I see repeated again and again, is that the same bunch of stupid, idle, anal, fat arsed, f***wit developers keep getting employed (especially in projects requiring clearance) every bloody time.

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Bronze badge

From conversations with someone who works on a lot of gov projects.

The problem seems to be that the project is all about the process they use rather than the result, so they aren't really aiming at getting an end result they are just aiming at saying yes we followed this procedure along the way.

Where I used to work with gov they worked to a just good enough principle. So its good enough for the requirements of that moment but the scope changes (cost rises etc) as soon as you realise good enough is not future proof.

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FAIL

having worked as a contractor on a couple of Gov accounts I can say that i am not entirely surprised.

This is what happens when you outsource your IT.

3rd party companies will always tell you they can polish your turds, until you crap on there desk.

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Facepalm

Not to worry...

...the "NHS IT fiasco workers" from CSC can go and do another sterling job over at the MoD with the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA). (http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2012/04/17/hp_loses_mod_payroll_and_pensions_deal_to_csc/)

Clearly past performance is no block to future work...have they been poaching Salespeople from HP (née EDS) as they were the past masters at that?

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