back to article Oh good. They're looking for an NHSX CTO. Hopefully they'll see off 'snake oil' pushers, says GP

Fancy a new job and a pay packet of upwards of £131k per year? Well, if you don't mind working with the ever-beaming Matt Hancock, the health service's newly formed digital quango, NHSX, is looking for a full-time chief technology officer. The move has been welcomed by some health and technology experts, who have warned the UK …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "it still takes me 17 minutes to log on"

    Um, sorry but that's not a Windows problem, it's a hardware problem.

    Upgrade the RAM from 1GB to 8GB, upgrade the processor from a Pentium to an i7 4600 and put a 1TB SSD to boot on and you'll only need a minute to log on, if that. Of course, you might want to upgrade the processor first, because there's a good chance you'll need to change the motherboard as well.

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: "it still takes me 17 minutes to log on"

      Or maybe she needs to learn to type with more than one finger?

      Also if your i7 & SSD takes a minute to log on you should throw it in the bin & buy AMD. My Ryzen system boots in seconds that you can count on one hand.

    2. dharmOS

      Re: "it still takes me 17 minutes to log on"

      My work "NHS" computer with 6th gen Core i5, Win 7 Enterprise, 8GB RAM and SSD takes 15min on a bad day to get a working EMIS screen where I can review patient notes or record what they say.

      Security software takes the fastest machine and slows it down interminably. Plus most GP SoC software data is remote hosted with a Win32 fat client (or RDP in my case) connecting to it rather than run locally. So no point comparing it to your overclocked games machines without centrally installed and controlled locked down "security" software.

      I am saddened that the President of the GP Royal College takes even longer than I do to get a working desktop! The issue is so bad that you dare not log out and move rooms for the time it will take to get up and running again.

      1. Gavin Jamie

        Re: "it still takes me 17 minutes to log on"

        Time to log on is not generally measured as time to Windows desktop, but time to being able to start working. My morning log on is

        1. Windows Log on

        2. NHS smart card log on - that can be a good 90 seconds of watching a progress bar. More often use that time to go and do something else.

        3. Start up the clinical application.

        4. Start up the document management application (separate password logon)

        Not 15 minutes for me, more like five, but I do have a reasonable bit of hardware running over a 100 meg fibre connection. More rural practices will have whatever ADSL they can get locally.

    3. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: "it still takes me 17 minutes to log on"

      Or just buy a new machine by the time you've faffed around and spent money doing all that.

      Agree on the security software point. It's quite disheartening when you've got a fresh new PC on the domain and it's nice and speedy until it's processed all the GPOs and loaded up the AV. Then you're only marginally better off than what you replaced.

    4. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: "it still takes me 17 minutes to log on"

      "Um, sorry but that's not a Windows problem, it's a hardware problem."

      That's exactly the kind of snake oil sales statement medical professionals need to be protected from. Until you have a detailed understanding of the hardware, software, networking and backend stacks the good Doctor has to work with, you have no idea where the problem lies.

      Our local surgery has just got a whole bunch of brand new low profile PCs, Core i5s (says the sticker) with correspondingly modern RAM and HDD specs - but load times are still glacial because they're being used as dumb terminals to log into a central patient database which predates the dark ages. Updating the hardware (again) would achieve nothing except padding some shiny suited PC salesman's commission cheque.

    5. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: "it still takes me 17 minutes to log on"

      Not sure of why all the downvotes. You're right regarding the SSD at least. You can have older machines and stick an SSD in and it will speed it up, done that with some old Dells at work.

      However, this isn't always the case. Having worked in the NHS, we had one GP (who was a bit of an arse, like a few of them are) who'd logged a call for slow logins. Called him, told him "I'll need to get rid of all these music MP3s you have, there are over 10GBs worth of them and because you have a roaming profile on a slow connection, you're always going to have slow logins". This was in the XP days. Got the reply "Delete them then, I don't care, I'm leaving next week anyway".


      Had another GP call up moaning at why one of the engineers I'd sent out had taken her PC away with data on it. "Why wasn't I informed. It has data on it. I need to be sure it is disposed of properly". To which I replied "The rules have always been that no data is to be saved to the local machines. The engineer knocked on your door, you weren't there but your PA said it was OK to take away as you were aware all the machines were being upgraded. Again, the data is fine but also shouldn't have been on the machine". She went quiet and didn't carry on moaning. Mainly because she knew she'd been caught out saving data on the drive.

      Again, XP days before a lot of locking down was done.

      And a fairly recent one, who smashed a touch screen device because "It was frustratingly slow". He was a "consultant eye specialist". He had a point but had no right to smash the device. I'm hoping he was charged for the replacement, but I suspect not.

      I'm sure we respect GPs but some, like any other profession, can be arseholes.

      My point was also that not all the GPs know what they are talking about or doing when it comes to IT.

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: "it still takes me 17 minutes to log on"

        ” Not sure of why all the downvotes. You're right regarding the SSD at least.“

        Because jumping to the conclusion that the problem is hardware without bothering to understand what’s going on is cowboyism of the worst sort.

        A downvote is the least we could do.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "it still takes me 17 minutes to log on"

        Try dealing with consultant doctors....

    6. David 18

      Re: "it still takes me 17 minutes to log on"

      "Um, sorry but that's not a Windows problem, it's a hardware problem...."

      Which all sounds like an ill-informed enthusiast with apparently little knowledge of all the additional processes, policies, configuration etc required in a large business.

      Certainly a bog standard PC World PC will boot fast. It doesn't have to connect and authenticate potentially many disparate systems, that's what takes the time.

    7. Wupspups

      Re: "it still takes me 17 minutes to log on"

      More likely given the NHS a mega huge roaming profile full of crap over a dog slow network.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So let me get this right... you have NHS Digital dealing with IT and technology and NHSX dealing with IT and technology... what could possibly go wrong

    Why can't they stop wasting money setting up another 'brand' and spending it on the 'customer facing' bits... the bits that you and I get to see... oh yes, those bits doesn't make a 'profit' (except for the outsourced bits that get to deal only with the cherry-picked bits and then only 'within their remit')

  3. Mike 140

    re 17 minutes

    To logon to the PC, or to logon to the PC + get connected and logged on to the central NHS system?

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: re 17 minutes

      yes, unless you do it wrong.

  4. Mike 140

    re 17 minutes

    To logon to the PC, or to logon to the PC + get connected and logged on to the central NHS system?

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: re 17 minutes

      Then you have to start over from the beginning...

  5. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    GP's are private practices. Do the NHS supply their computers and maintain them?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately so. There used to be demands from practice managers for new bits of equipment which the appropriate PCT or now CCG has to pay for and maintain either directly or through an outsourcing agreement to some other pseudo NHS organisation.

    2. steviebuk Silver badge
    3. Adrian Midgley 1



      (Private Practice means something else, BTW)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Almost my dream job . .[1]

    . . . except I have an aversion to to working with people whose principles scatter in all directions as soon as a cabinet post is in the offing.

    [1] Not really my dream job - even without the caveat.

  7. Rob Dyke

    Let's hope that NHSX can keep this job post up longer than the last one:

    1. 335/113

      Thanks for the interesting NHSX link. A reaction.

      There may be some jobs for which anything other than pure merit is remotely relevant. Things like flying airplanes (aeroplanes?), preforming surgery, building cranes or hospitals, or research in physics or mathematics aren't among them. Positive, negative or any form of social-engineering discrimination would be, er, frowned upon.

      Maybe appearing on the television or in parliament would rule out the Joseph Merricks amongst us. I'd put spending taxpayers money in the first category. JM, or someone identifying as a green wheely-bin would be fine if he or she or it truly understood what they were doing, and I'd hope (close to desperately) the interview panel would focus exclusively on that.

      On the Boeing website (I think it is still there), the first thing you see is that there are 42 diversity councils in Boeing. Excellent. Tickety box. There didn't seem to be an awful lot of clued up folk, or wheely-bins reviewing the design of their airplanes (aeroplanes?), or at least being listened to.

  8. Martin Summers Silver badge

    The problem with these jobs is that they attract every bullshiter and their dog. People who don't know what they're doing and they make a fortune bleeding the government of salary and left to carry on as the people who employed them don't understand that they haven't got a clue either. People with the real skills to go for this job won't go for it because they don't believe they'll get it as its prestigious and everyone will try, or the job description sounds too lofty for them to achieve. I imagine there's someone reading this article right now who'd do a damn good job at this and should put themselves up for it. Government needs more people that really know what they're doing. If those kind of people don't apply and try (what's to lose?), then we'll be reading about more government IT waste for years to come.

    1. steviebuk Silver badge

      True. And because of the position. When they do start to fail and it's noticed, instead of getting warnings & eventually fired like any other role, they get given "golden handshakes" of many thousands to....fuck off.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £131K /y for a CTO

    Only £131K /y for a CTO: No wonder the "NHS technology dept" is in such a mess - Why would someone who could do the job properly, want to take a major pay cut to work with a bunch of "get it wrong everytime muppets" ?

  10. trevorde

    Job Description

    * must like meetings

    * must be buzzword compliant

    * previous winners of 'Bullshit Bingo' are encouraged to apply

    * must like meetings

    1. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Job Description

      * Must be able to talk hipster bullshit.

      * Must be able to spout bollocks about "Digital, Digital, Digital".

      * Must be able to shout "Developers, Developers, Developers" like the ex CTO Steve Balmer.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Job Description

        Sorry, I must disagree with you on one point;

        Must be able to shout "Developers, Developers, Developers" like the ex CTO Steve Balmer.

        If they can't follow it up with an airborne chair or two, then, they are not in the same league* as Steve Balmer.

        * not the National Basketball Association, of which he is the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers .

  11. stevo42

    FYI It's spelt Hadley, not Hadly

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      FYI It's spelt Hadley, not Hadly

      It's Hadley Lamarr! Hadley!

      </Blazing Saddles>

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Snake oil

    "Having a CTO that can spot the snake oil would be very valuable."

    Some hope! In my experience they are the ones most susceptible to it. Get a damned good techie, who is able to see through the bullshit, in the post if that is what they are hoping to achieve.

    I've yet to meet anyone above manager level who has the first clue about what is real and what is hype.

    Anon for obvious reasons.

  13. teebie

    "on the verge of wasting money on untested technology such as AI because it does not necessarily understand what it is buying."

    Whatever the solution to that problem it, it does not contain Matt Hancock.

  14. LeahroyNake Silver badge


    Ohhh yeah definitely and some blockchain! We need more of that, you see cloud blockchain AI will reduce hospital wait times by 50% and we can audit everything using distributed cloud outsourced quantum computing with IOT mobile first microservice virtualising GP app to provide an imersive experience for our ongoing continual improvement ... Oh they died. Sorry about that, please check the T&C.

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