March 2010 Archives

Summary Care Records opt-out isn't "easy-peasy" says Janet Street Porter

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               I can request Summary Care Records information in Farsi, Gujarati, Mandarin or Polish, but not say I don't want an SCR...

              "Why should pensioners and the disabled have to spend time and effort making phone calls and logging on to protect their privacy?"

               "...We have not been consulted about SCRs, just inflicted with them. The money and effort being poured into this bonkers scheme would keep more wards open and pay for extra nurses at a time when the NHS has drawn up secret plans for £20bn worth of cuts.


**

Daily Mail columnist Janet Street Porter, has picked up on Computer Weekly's article about inaccuracies and omissions in the Summary Care Records database.

She cites the inaccuracies as part of her criticism of the Summary Care Record scheme. She points out that opting out of the SCR scheme is far from  "easy-peasy".


Budget boost for SMEs is welcome - but ...

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In the budget speech today, the Chancellor Alistair Darling said:

"Building on the recommendations of the Glover review, I will increase by 15 per cent the proportion of central government contracts that go to SMEs.

"This could mean new business worth an extra £3bn from central government alone and up to £15bn across the wider public sector."

Martin Rice, CEO of IT company Erudine and co-founder of the UK Innovation Initiative, welcomes Darling's statement that more Government contracts will go to SMEs, but he says it won't necessarily help small innovative companies in winning bids.


MP questions NHS CIO on BT, CSC, Lorenzo and Cerner

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MP Richard Bacon, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, who has followed the NPfIT more closely than any other MP, yesterday sent a list of questions to Christine Connelly, the Department of Health's CIO of health.

His letter has been copied to the chief executive of the NHS, David Nicholson, and to the Comptroller and Auditor General at the National Audit Office, Amyas Morse.

Bacon's questions follow disclosures that NHS Connecting for Health is negotiating with CSC and BT to halve the number of local service provider deployments and greatly reduce the functionality of Lorenzo and Cerner systems.

The government wants to cut hundreds of millions of pounds from the costs of the NPfIT - but, in essence, it is proposing to cut CSC and BT's financial commitments by about £2 for every pound they reduce the total value of the contracts.


Will health IT programme in US follow the NPfIT?

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Health Care Renewal predicts that the National Program for Healthcare IT in the US is likely, in 2015, to resemble the National Programme for IT in the NHS in 2010.

CfH responds to "NPfIT close to imploding" claim

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The Department of Health has responded to as long article in The Guardian saying that the NPfIT is close to imploding.

A spokesperson said:

"We are continuing to work with the NHS at local level to ensure that the things clinicians have told us are most important to them get delivered.

"By focusing on these priority areas, we will ensure that patients get to benefit from our investment in health care technology whilst at the same time ensuring that the savings announced by the Secretary of State are achieved.

"We continue to review cost reductions to ensure that the savings obtained are commensurate with the reductions in scope and delivery profile."


DH responds to Guardian NPfIT "implosion" claim - ITpro

Is the NPfIT close to imploding? - IT Projects Blog

Delays with £12.7bn NHS software program bring it close to collapse - The Guardian 

Ex-iSoft employee barred for misleading auditors

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The Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board [AADB] has barred a former iSoft employee Ian Storey from being a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales for eight years. It also ordered him to pay £20,000 costs.  

An announcement about the outcome of its disciplinary hearing against Storey is on the AADB website. It says that Storey, who was iSoft's Financial Controller, "accepted that he had, on a number of occasions between November 2003 and November 2005, provided false and misleading information to iSoft's former auditors in relation to a purported iSoft contract".

The auditors were Robson Rhodes, which became a part of Grant Thornton on July 1, 2007.

Will Chancellor scrap any big IT-based projects tomorrow?

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Gordon Brown's speech yesterday on "Building Britain's Digital Future", says that the Government may cancel some current projects.

He said: "I want to make a radical set of proposals which include transfers and shifts in existing spending, including being prepared to cancel current projects ..."

Is the NPfIT close to imploding?

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Whitehall officials have little idea what to do if the all-important go-live of Lorenzo 1.9 at Morecambe Bay doesn't happen in the near future.

The Guardian's website has a long piece on the NPfIT, saying that the programme is "close to imploding, potentially triggering a deluge of legal claims against the taxpayer running into billions of pounds, which could start to emerge weeks before a general election".

It says that there is intense political pressure from Whitehall now falling on Morecambe Bay NHS Trust and a software "go-live" deadline set for the end of this month. This is some of what The Guardian says:

"Preparatory testing at Morecambe Bay is believed to have failed some weeks ago, though iSoft, the firm behind Lorenzo, last week insisted testing was "on track" and dismissed as "media speculation" suggestions that the deadline was in jeopardy.

"If Lorenzo is not running smoothly at Morecambe Bay in the next two weeks it will send financial shockwaves throughout Labour's National Programme for IT, potentially forcing profits warnings from iSoft and others. It will also be devastating for the Department of Health, which is locked in frantic contract renegotiations with contractors to keep the project alive.

Summary Care Records: the truth or nothing like it?

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Richard Veryard has written a response to our report on inaccuracies and ommisions in the Summary Care Records database. He writes:"What's wrong with the single version of truth."

Researchers at University College, London, found in a confidential draft report that doctors were unable to trust the SCR database as a single source of truth.

NHS Connecting for Health has pointed out that errors and gaps in the SCR database are not its fault - they're because of problems with GP-held data.

CfH's response characterises its approach to the NPfIT: if problems are not of its own making, they don't particularly matter.

But if large numbers of clinicians access the SCR and find the data is untrustworthy, they may decide not to take the time to use it again, which could be a disaster for the SCR, though not for CfH.

Did OGC Gateway Review process let down Student Loans Company?

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             Or did Student Loans Company tell Gateway reviewers part-truths?


Today's report by the National Audit Office into the Student Loans Company's "Customer First" IT-based programme found that OGC Gateway reviewers got it badly wrong.

A Gateway review in the midst of a crisis, in July 2009, put the "delivery confidence" in the ability of the Student Loans Company to make payments by the start of term in September 2009 at "amber/green".

Yet months before that Gateway review, a crisis had begun to unfold.

Instead of confronting it, the Company appears to have taken the approach of Henry Kissinger who said, "There can't be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full."


Confidential report on Summary Care Records finds database is inaccurate

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The Summary Care Records database - which is central to the government's plans to create health records for 50 million people - contains inaccuracies and omissions that make it difficult for doctors to trust it as a single source of truth, according to a confidential draft report.

The findings by researchers at University College London, are likely to reinforce the concerns of the British Medical Association which has called for a halt to the "rushed" rollout of the "imperfect" Summary Care Record scheme.

The Government launched Summary Care Records to help doctors and nurses make better clinical decisions. The aim is for clinicians and out-of-hours doctors to have access, particularly in an emergency, to a central record of a patient's allergies, medications and adverse reactions to drugs. 

But the researchers at University College, London, found examples where the Summary Care Records central database failed to indicate a patient's allergies or adverse reactions to drugs, and listed "current" medication that the patient wasn't taking.

The database also indicated allergies or adverse reactions to drugs the patient did not have.

Advice on opting-out patients en masse from Summary Care Records?

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GPs in London are being advised that it's entirely up to them when - or if - they upload data on thousands of their patients to the NPfIT Summary Care Records database.

Guidance issued by the Londonwide Local Medical Committees - the professional voice of GP practices in the capital - tells GPs that it is open to them not to participate at all in Summary Care Records.

If GP Practices do take part, they should not wait an unreasonably long time to upload confidential records on their patients to the NHS "spine", says the Londonwide LMCs guidance paper.

It also warns against the premature uploading of patient data to the SCR.

Do new rules on use of Police National Database go far enough?

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The National Policing Improvement Agency today publishes a code which governs the use of a new intelligence system that, in effect, implements some of the main recommendations of the Bichard inquiry into the murders of schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

The new Police National Database is due to be launched later this year. It should, for the first time, allow forces across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to share, access and search existing local intelligence and operational information on a national basis.

A lack of data sharing was blamed, in part, for preventing the employment as a school caretaker of Ian Huntley who was convicted of the so-called Soham murders.

Catering staff given access to electronic health records

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The Irish Independent says that catering staff were able to access confidential patient information held on a £54m health service record system which is being rolled out across Ireland.

The disclosure, under the Freedom of Information Act, has implications for the roll-out of Summary Care Records in England, as part of the NHS IT programme, NPfIT.

Smartcards for access to the Summary Card Records and other NPfIT systems are issued on the basis of "role-based" access. The idea is that only those staff with a legitimate professional relationship with the patient can use their smartcards to access that patient's records.

But local operational procedures may require that secretaries and reception staff who collect information on patients have smartcards.

They could be said to have a legitimate professional relationship with patients; and it could be said by some trusts that caterers have a legitimate relationship with patients if they are to ensure that special diets  - diabetic or low-fat - are served. 

It's not inconceivable, therefore, that under the NPfIT, some trusts may give catering staff access to the system.

In Ireland, an audit found that hospital catering staff at Kerry General Hospital had access codes to the iSoft-based Integrated Patient Management System [IPMS] which is used by 10 acute hospitals and 20 health service centres.

OGC says its e-auction strategy will save £270m by 2011/12

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The Office of Government Commerce's Centre for e-Auctions has today published its Forward Plan for e-Auctions.  The OGC hopes the e-auctions will save the public sector up to £270m by the end of 2011/12.

The Forward Plan sets out the e-auctions for the next two years which, says the OGC, will influence over £900m of public sector spend.

CfH medical director stands down as director of software supplier

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The Medical Director at NHS Connecting for Health has resigned as non-executive director of a health software group, to avoid any perceptions of a conflict of interest.

Simon Eccles has been one of the government's most high-profile and ardent supporters of the National Programme for IT [NPfIT].

Last week he was on BBC R4's "Today" to defend criticism by the British Medical Association's Council chairman Hamish Meldrum of the accelerated roll-out of NPfIT Summary Care Records.

After the broadcast, an anonymous Computer Weekly reader left a comment on this blog saying that Eccles is Medical Director of NHS Connecting of Health and also non-executive director of Zircadian, a private IT company which sells software and IT solutions to the NHS.

Council says e-health records are open to hacking and abuse

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                                    (Full council motion below)

As we report on ComputerWeekly.com, Milton Keynes Council has formally raised concerns that Summary Care Records are open to abuse and hacking.

The formal council motion that criticized the IT security of Summary Care Records wasn't supported by Labour but passed on a vote of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The council is run by a coalition of Liberal Democrats and Labour, with the Conservatives in opposition.

iSoft "on track" for Lorenzo Morecambe Bay NPfIT milestone

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iSoft deal with NPfIT supplier CSC "on track to be concluded in coming weeks."

iSoft revises financial guidance for second-half because of currency fluctuations

iSoft told the Australian Securities Exchange today [15 March 2010] that it "remains on track for the go-live of Lorenzo Regional Healthcare Release 1.9 at Morecambe Bay in accordance with the agreed schedule, contrary to recent speculation in media reports".

The go-live at Morecambe Bay is critical to iSoft and CSC, the NPfIT local service provider to NHS trusts in England, outside of London and the south.

It triggers a cash payment under the NPfIT NHS IT programme of tens of millions to CSC.

Too many destructive vested interests in Govt IT?

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In response to the article on this blog by Rob Bowley, on whether Agile can help solve Government IT problems,  Matt writes:

"Not if what I've seen of 'agile' approaches in government IT is anything to go by."

His comments, in full, are below.

He paints a picture of Government IT as riven by the interests of those involved: suppliers and public servants.

Whitehall administration - a variation on anarchy?

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It's doubtful there was ever a time when Sir Richard Mottram was the archetypal senior civil servant. I was lucky enough to meet him when he was slightly intoxicated at a party in Whitehall thrown by David Blunkett. Sir Richard speaks his mind, which is a mark, I think, of his character, rather than the drink.

Now the plain-speaking Sir Richard is reported in The Guardian as telling the Public Administration Committee the truth about Whitehall organisation. He said it's a "variation on anarchy".

There is a resistance to reform in Whitehall because, 

"actually it suits some politicians, including some prime ministers, and it suits some officials, to run a system which is frankly a variation on anarchy, and when you have a variation on anarchy funnily enough things do not get decided and implemented in a structured, process-driven way."

Why opt-out forms aren't in Summary Care Records patient info packs

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Millions of information packs on the Summary Care Records are due to be sent to patients across England. The SCR is a central database of medical information. It's part of the NHS IT programme, the NPfIT.

Many GPs say the information packs should include an opt-out form. Otherwise patients who wish to opt out may not do so because they'd have to ask for a form or go online. London GPs have taken the decision to make it easier for their patients to opt-out.

In a letter to GPs this month, GP Gillian Braunold, the NHS Connecting for Health Clinical Director of Summary Care Records and HealthSpace, says why opt-put forms are not included in patient information packs.

New seminar on impact of BSkyB v EDS judgment

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Reading-based Clarkslegal is hosting a breakfast seminar on 31 March on  the impact of the judgment in the case of BSkyB versus EDS.

It says the judgment is of "relevance way beyond the IT sector and has lessons for all businesses taking part in procurements, whether as supplier or customer as a result of the finding of fraudulent misrepresentation by EDS and the devastating effect on its limitation clause".

It adds: "The decision also demonstrates the consequences of failing to vet and monitor your employees closely."

With my colleagues Bryan Glick and Karl Flinders, I attended last week an excellent seminar on the case at Berwin, Leighton Paisner.   It was organised by outsourcing advisers Burnt Oak Partners. Karl sums up here

These were some of the points that struck me:

Conservatives move towards a Freedom of Data Act?

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Today the Conservatives are launching their 'Tech Manifesto'. It contains a bold new commitment: a 'Right to Government Data', says Stephen Shakespeare who is chairman of the Network for the Post-Bureaucratic Age, writing on the Conservatives' website.




Do NHS systems and NHS procedures encourage smartcard-sharing?

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In response to the article on this blog "a culture among some NHS staff of smartcard sharing" GP Gavin Jamie writes:

"I am sure it is no surprise to many that it is often the IT systems that implicitly encourage password sharing. If two people use a computer then the switch process is more like logging out and logging back in again in Windows than the instant switch you see behind a bar or with point of sale systems.

EDS on the BSkyB case "the people involved were exited"

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Craig Wilson, who's managing director and vice managing director and vice president of HP Enterprise Services, says that the BSkyB case against EDS is a "bit like yesterday's chip paper".

Wilson manages EDS which was taken over by HP in August 2008. He was interviewed by CIO UK which asked him what he made of the BSkyB case.

"It's a bit like yesterday's chip paper at EDS," he said. "The whole IT industry was in the middle of year 2000 [when the disputed agreement was made]. It was 'go, go' and it was crackers, the end of the dot-coms period. The people involved were exited even before EDS was a glint in HP's eye. We're obviously pleased that of the five matters raised, the judge rejected four of them."

Don't bully patients into Summary Care Records opt out

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Quicksilva, a company that works organisations involved with the NHS Connecting For Health programme, to help them access the NHS Spine, says that an immediate boycott of Summary Care Records will increase costs and delay healthcare modernisation.

Gayna Hart, MD of Quicksilva says:

"The BMA's recent letter to health minister Mike O'Brien, calling for an immediate halt to the rollout of electronic records on grounds that it is being deployed at "break neck speed", doesn't acknowledge that it is part of larger project and has been planned for five years now.

"Calling for an immediate boycott will further increase costs and delay healthcare modernisation. Electronic records will form a crucial part of the modern NHS and will help eliminate NHS data errors which could slow down treatment times and put patients at risk.


Could Agile help solve the government's IT problems?

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Computer Weekly published today a call by the British Medical Association to halt what it calls a rushed roll-out of an imperfect Care Records Service.

Responding to the article, Rob Bowley has reminded me of a petition on the Number 10 website which calls on the Prime Minister to:

 "demand a review of the current approach and look at adopting a more incremental and agile approach to Government IT projects"  
His email to me says that the petition is aimed at persuading the government to review its outdated software development processes.

BMA and CfH argue it out over NPfIT Summary Care Records

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        Would Summary Care Records have saved the life of Penny Campbell?

[Comments 5 and 6 after this article correct some of the impressions I have given. The SCR is equipped to take GP notes]  

It's rare for the British Medical Association and NHS Connecting for Health to debate the Summary Care Records. Their representatives did so on BBC R4's Today programme this morning.

A transcript is below.

Dr Hamish Meldrum of the BMA, and Dr Simon Eccles of NHS Connecting for Health, made their points with impressive force.

The strongest single point was made at the end by Simon Eccles who suggested that the death of journalist Penny Campbell could have been avoided had a succession of out-of-hours doctors been able to see the notes of each of the doctors who had seen her before.

But would the Summary Care Records really have made any difference? Eccles's point supposes:

- that each out-of-hour doctor who saw Campbell would have had real-time access to the SCR while they were with the patient, as opposed to looking at it before or the next day

- that each doctor would have recorded on the SCR what actions they had taken in real-time, or within an hour of seeing the patient

- that each doctor could have recorded their thoughts on what was wrong with Campbell. The SCR is not yet for notes - it's a record of medications, adverse drug reactions and allergies.

The death of Penny Campbell was characterized by a series of doctors not noticing, acting on, or understanding, a trajectory of different and complex symptoms.

Each of her calls to doctors was treated as an individual "episode", with Campbell having to repeatedly recount her symptoms. The SCR is not yet geared for recording symptoms.

The SCR could have helped - but her records would have needed real-time updating of notes by every doctor she saw.

And this is not happening under the national SCR scheme that's now being rolled out. 

**

iSoft loses a senior executive

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From US health IT website Histalk:

"iSoft loses another senior executive from it's flagship business unit. Just confirmed from internal source that Keith Kirtland, UK&I Commercial and Sales Director resigned earlier this month."

The website reports that Kirtland is the fourth sales director in as many years and his departure may affect "overall sales in the UK for this troubled NPfIT supplier".

In response to the report, an iSoft spokesman said this morning:

"Mr Kirtland left for personal reasons. Tony Bowden, formerly of Initiate, has been appointed business development director for the UK and Ireland business."

In February,  iSOFT reported drops in revenue and profit. iSoft's share price is close to its 52-week low, though it was up 4% yesterday.

iSoft's Lorenzo is due to be installed by local service provider CSC in three of the five regions into which the NPfIT scheme in England is split. iSoft's Lorenzo is also to be sold directly to NHS trusts in England. A renegotiation of CSC's local service provider contract is now underway to reduce the overall cost to the government of the LSP contracts.

iSoft describes itself as the "world's largest healthcare information technology company in terms of our global footprint".

Last month iSoft announced that it has appointed a Group Operations Director, Mike Jackman, and a President, North America, Robert Miller.

Is Summary Care Records rollout speeding up as GPs urge caution?

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Silicom.com reports that the Department of Health and NHS Connecting for Health are pushing ahead with the national roll-out of Summary Care Records, not waiting for the results of £700,000 study they commissioned to "inform the national roll-out of the SCR".

All the signs are that the DH and NHS CfH are trying to roll-out the SCR as soon as possible, whether or not doctors and independent advise a slow-down.
 
Silicon.com says that the DH commission has commissioned, at a cost of £723,411, a further study by SCR experts at the University College London on the roll-out. It is due to report next month.

A DH spokeswoman said that the UCL evaluation will "still be useful" although the national roll-out is well underway.

All US government IT projects under review

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Vivek Kundra, the US government's Chief Information Officer, is said to be keeping IT projects under review to "turnaround, halt or terminate IT investments that do not produce dividends for the American people".

A useful account of his plans is at IEEE Spectrum.

Government IT should be "part of the election debate"

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David Chassels is a former Director of 3i Corporate Finance in Scotland, and a former partner at BDO. He's now CEO of software house Procession, based at Chesham, Buckinghamshire.

He writes to me that the problem of big government IT failures "is a good second place to the financial market regulation failings and deserves to be part of the election debate".

His comments reflect the frustrations of many CEOs of SME software companies that try to sell to government:

He says:  

"The fact that UK Government IT is a disaster area is not in doubt.

"The recent File on 4 02/03/2010 program and your contribution was chilling and frankly at national scandal level. The question is why?

A culture amongst some NHS staff of sharing passwords

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The Scottish Parliament has recognised a "a culture amongst some NHS staff of sharing IT usernames and passwords", according to a report in The Scotsman.

Bright people at IT suppliers treat ministers as playthings

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"Whoever wins I hope will take a scythe through all these precious IT systems" - Edward Leigh, outgoing chairman of the House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee .

Conservative Edward Leigh will be standing down as chairman of the House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee. Tradition has it that the committee has an opposition chairman. Even if Labour wins the election, the committee is likely to appoint a new chairman.

edward leigh.jpg


Interviewed by BBC R4's File on 4, Leigh summed up what he has learned about IT-based projects and programmes during his years as chairman of the committee.

"[When] politicians come up with these ideas they want everything to be done immediately.


A terrible price for the Government's love of IT complexity?

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"Some farmers have actually committed suicide because they've been given money and then abruptly been told it's an overpayment and monies have been demanded back" - Edward Leigh, chairman of the House of Commons' Public Accounts Committee.


George Dunn, Chief Executive of the Tenants Farmers' Association, was a member of the stakeholder group that advised the government on setting up of what became the disastrous Single Payment Scheme.

He said the group was presented with options ranging from the simple to the complex. The Government chose the most complex.

Tories call for Labour to halt signing of big IT contracts

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The Financial Times reports that the Conservatives have asked Sir Gus O'Donnell, the cabinet secretary, to ensure that no big IT contracts are signed in the run-up to the general election.

It comes after Computer Weekly's disclosure that Health Secretary Andy Burnham and his officials are seeking to sign new NPfIT deals, worth about £3bn, before the end of this month, ahead of the general election.


BSkyB v EDS - HP restates profits 3 weeks after announcing them

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A chronology:

3 February 2010: The High Court orders HP to pay £200m in damages to BSkyB which has won its claim for fraudulent misrepresentation. A judge found that EDS, which was acquired by HP in 2008, had overstated its abilities when selling a CRM system to BSkyB. The £200m must be paid within 14 days.

17 February 2010: HP announces its first-quarter results.

1 March 2010: The judge in the case orders HP to pay a further £70m to BSkyB in interim damages and interest. There's to be a further hearing in April over the amount of damages and interest.  

5 March 2010: HP restates its first-quarter results in the light of the judge's 1 March ruling. HP increases its contingency reserve in connection with the litigation, which hits its previously-announced first-quarter net profits by $73m [£48.3m]

As the amount of damages and interest have yet to be finalised, HP has told the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it will "continue to evaluate the reserve pending final resolution of the litigation".

**

Will minister's NPfIT cuts put future of Lorenzo in doubt?

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An IT director at a hospitals trust has questioned the "efficacy" of the NPfIT Lorenzo Regional Care product in the light of ministerial cuts.

The iSoft Lorenzo software is due to be installed by services supplier CSC at hundreds of NHS sites across England - outside of London and the south. Lorenzo is CSC's main software product under its NPfIT contracts which are worth about £3bn.

But Duncan Robinson, the Associate Director of IT at South Warwickshire General Hospitals NHS Trust, says:
 

Another example of IT anarchy within government?

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Some reports of the Public Accounts Committee (which are drafted by the National Audit Office] highlight goings-on within the machinery of government that make one wonder whether some public and civil servants have relinquished any interest in buying IT and have handed the job to their IT suppliers.

"Give us what you think we need, then send us the invoice" seems to be the approach at times.

Perhaps this helps to explain why the Equality and Human Rights Commission could not explain to public accounts MPs why it disposed of IT inherited when it was formed, and spent £9.3m on new systems.

Major public sector IT project said to be going well

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The much-needed Tell Us Once IT project is said to be progressing well, though it's early days.

The project is being led by the Department for Work and Pensions, and is important because, if it continues to work well, the next of kin after a bereavement won't need to give the deceased's name and address countless times when informing government departments and agencies of the death.

Tell Us Once would also make it easier to inform government of a birth, or a major change of circumstances. The idea is that you tell one department, and the information gets passed to all departments and agencies that need to know.

"That sounds an utterly obvious thing to do - and it is - but making it a reality is very challenging," says Sir Leigh Lewis, Permanent Secretary at the DWP.
 

Put a financial value on protecting data says ICO

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The Information Commissioner's Office is asking businesses and organisations to put a financial value on protecting personal information.

Yesterday the ICO, at the Data Protection Officer Conference in Manchester, launched 'The Privacy Dividend' report which provides organisations with a financial case for data protection best practice.

The ICO gives four main reasons for protecting personal information and being seen to do so.

It:

A few big IT suppliers may have Tories over a barrel

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A well-informed presenter of BBC R4's File on 4 interviewed two weeks ago the Conservative shadow health minister Stephen O'Brien about the failures of some large public sector IT-related projects. Time and a focus on specific matters didn't allow all of the interview to be used in the broadcast.

O'Brien said that a Tory government would learn the lessons from past IT catastrophes, although he didn't go as far as promising an end to them.

With refreshing realism for a senior politician, O'Brien said that giving a commitment to end IT failures would be "foolish and over-optimistic", given that government ministers are not the people delivering the product.

"But I'm very confident the one thing we can do is learn the lessons from experience," he added. "I am confident that our process will minimise the chances for what are design errors."

He said he would hope to "set the policy to make sure that we get the tools that deliver that policy and that we commit the resources that are necessary".

File on 4's presenter asked whether the Conservatives would be dependent on a small number of big IT suppliers that have been involved in several large IT-related failures.

O'Brien said:

"There are a limited number of suppliers who have either the expertise or the scale of what's required. They are not necessarily UK companies. We've had lots of discussions, ongoing discussions, with many of these suppliers, clearly in advance of us knowing we're going to form a government.

Is joined-up Govt possible? This may give the answer

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The resourceful and good-humoured David Moss has spent seven years campaigning against the Home Office's ID card scheme.

So diligent are his efforts that Lin Homer, Chief Executive of the UK Border Agency, sought to persuade him last month to meet "key staff involved in the assurance of the identity of travellers".                    

All credit to the plain-speaking Homer for arranging the meeting. She didn't pretend that identity technology is perfect.    

Priorities for Government CIOs in 2010 and beyond - Gartner

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Andrea Di Maio, vice president at Gartner, says that by 2012 "one in five government processes will rely on "crowdsourced" data".

BMA branch withdraws support for fast rollout of Summary Care Records

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A regional branch of the British Medical Association has issued a statement today that supports the concerns of doctors who are reluctant to allow patient records to be uploaded to a central database as part of the £12.7bn NHS IT scheme NPfIT.


What the next Government should do about the NPfIT

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Tom Brooks, who spoke about NHS IT on last night's BBC R4 File on 4 broadcast, has let me have his suggestions on what the next government should do about the NPfIT.

Brooks, a much-respected figure in health IT, writes:

Don't sign new NPfIT deals before election, warn Tories

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To the news that health minister Mike O'Brien is seeking urgently to sign new deals within four weeks with NPfIT local service providers CSC and BT, Stephen O'Brien, the Conservative shadow health minister told File on 4 researchers:

"We are very concerned  at what we are hearing: that the government is currently seeking to reset the current central [NPfIT local service provider] contracts with an end date with the current providers of March 2010 .

"This is in advance of what we believe to be the most likely general election date and we are urging the government not to go down that route because we wouldn't want any further  contractual arrangements to be committed to, by, say, the end of March."

Cerner success at Kingston Hospital?

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Kingston Hospital reports that its implementation of the Cerner Care Records Service  has been more successful than at other trusts - but the local paper, the Surrey Comet, isn't convinced.

Meanwhile the hospital's Chief Executive reports that "ongoing operational issues are being prioritised".

In 2009/10 the Trust received extra money - through NHS London and NHS Connecting for Health - to support its Care Records Service go live and to help develop a scaleable national implementation model. But it needs extra funding because "ongoing resource requirements are much greater than those originally expected".

The Trust says: "Due to increased development of the reporting systems to ensure they are sophisticated enough to deliver a timely, accurate reporting solution, the Trust is currently seeking additional funds to ensure successful delivery."

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Tories uncomfortable on what they'll do about the NPfIT?

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For tonight's R4 File on 4 programme, the BBC interviewed the Conservative Shadow Health Minister Stephen O'Brien who is well informed on the progress and problems of the NHS IT scheme, the NPfIT.

Now that a general election is approaching, and one the Conservatives may win, O'Brien must choose his words particularly carefully when answering questions on what the Tories will do about the NPfIT. 

He was asked by File on 4 what the Conservatives will do on the local service provider contracts [with BT and CSC]. O'Brien made the point that the LSP contracts haven't been published and until he sees them it is difficult to say whether the agreements can be halted and renegotiated.

BBC: What would the Conservatives do if you become the next government? Would you simply scrap the programme?

Will suppliers tolerate IT contracts being published in full?

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For tonight's R4 File on 4 broadcast on Government IT projects and the NPfIT, the BBC carried out a wide-ranging interview with the Conservative Shadow Health Minister Stephen O'Brien.

Some of its questions were about Conservative plans to publish in full all contracts over £25,000. This plan has worried some government suppliers.

They include some loss-leading prices in their contracts, which they make up in other ways such as providing staff for useful work that's not always directly associated with the contract. Full disclosure of the contracts could give a misleading impression of their pricing, they say.

BBC: Would the Conservative Party really publish all IT contracts in full if you become the next government?
 

O'Brien: "The commitment we have made is that they are [published] subject to certain caveats.. not least, for example, national security. But the principle would be that all contracts with  the government, all public sector contracts worth a value above £25,000,  would be published ..."

Court awards BSkyB £70m and defers decision on HP's appeal

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The High Court yesterday ordered HP to pay BSkyB a further £70m in damages and interest, on top of £200m interim damages already awarded.

It means that Sir Vivian Ramsey, the judge in the case of BSkyB versus EDS has ordered HP, EDS's owner, to pay a total of £270m to BSkyB. But the judge gave no immediate decision on HP's request for permission to appeal. He'll give his decision in writing.

Nobody will be surprised if the judge rejects HP's request for an appeal.

After spending nearly 18 months working on his 468-page judgment, the judge may see the document as having left no legal gaps through which HP could appeal. If the court rejects HP's appeal request, lawyers for the supplier would probably appeal directly to the Court of Appeal.

The next hearing is on 23 April.

EDS "misrepresentation" in BSkyB case - some comments by the judge - IT Projects Blog

Lessons from BSkyB case - CIO

Find out what the BskyB/EDS court case means to outsourcing contracts - Inside Outsourcing

Minister to sew up new NPfIT deals ahead of general election?

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This is a longer version of an article published this morning on ComputerWeekly.com

Health officials are seeking urgently to sign deals with the two main suppliers to the NHS scheme, which would commit the next government to about £3bn of spending on the troubled National Programme for IT, Computer Weekly has learned.

New deals could frustrate plans by the Conservatives, if they win the general election, to halt and renegotiate contracts with the two NPfIT local service providers CSC and BT.

Whitehall officials aim to sign a memorandum of understanding with CSC and BT by the end of this month, which would commit the next government to a new schedule of NPfIT software deliveries and electronic patient record installations at NHS sites.

A legally-binding memorandum of understanding with each supplier would keep the NPfIT alive, after the Chancellor Alistair Darling told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme in December 2009 that the NHS IT scheme was not essential to the frontline.

The MoUs would commit the next government to spending the £3bn that remains unpaid under the original and reset NPfIT LSP contracts.

New deals would also refresh the NPfIT contracts, large parts of which are no longer relevant. Delays in the delivery of software, and changes in the NHS, mean that the original contract's timetables and schedules for software functionality are obsolescent.

iSoft was "not willing" to give up Lorenzo rights in CSC talks

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Gary Cohen, CEO of iSoft, shines a light (below) on iSoft's negotiations with CSC in December 2009.

CSC has contracts worth about £3bn with NHS Connecting for Health and the Department of Health to deliver systems to the NHS as part of the NHS IT scheme, NPfIT.

CSC's main subcontractor is iSoft whose delayed NPfIT Lorenzo electronic patient record system is due to be installed at NHS trusts across England, outside of the London area and the south.

In December 2009, iSoft re-negotiated its contract with CSC.

Now Gary Cohen, CEO of iSoft, says that the re-negotiation meant forfeiting some "short-term" turnover but his company has kept the intellectual property rights to Lorenzo and it has won  the "ability to win business in our own right".

Council websites not good enough - with some exceptions

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Socitm, the local government association for IT managers, says there has been little improvement in council websites in the last 12 months.


BBC documentary on the NPfIT and government IT projects

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BBC R4's File on 4 is broadcasting tomorrow evening the results of its investigation into some big Government IT projects and the £12.7bn NHS IT scheme, NPfIT.

The BBC says of the broadcast's contents:

"As ministers decide whether a 12-billion-pound NHS computer project in England offers value for money, Gerry Northam asks if some major IT projects could be scrapped by a new government looking for big spending cuts."

File on 4 is at 20:00 tomorrow [2 March 2010], Radio 4, and repeated on Sunday 7 March at 17:00.

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