Ex-NPfIT "owner" speaks publicly about scheme for first time since he quit

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Aidan Halligan was the joint senior responsible owner of the NPfIT in 2004, a role he shared with the then head of the programme, Richard Granger.

Always a man who had a realistic respect for the NPfIT's challenges, Halligan quit as joint NPfIT senior responsible owner after only six months in the role, for reasons which were never given.

Before his departure he had acknowledged that not enough had been done to win the support of clinicians.

Their buy-in, he had said, was critical to the success of the NPfIT. He said in 2004:

"There has not been much engagement by clinicians in the early stages of the programme and for that, I apologise. We do need to be open and honest and the most important part of communication is listening."

With prescience, he had also said that the NPfIT would not work unless it was owned locally.

Now Halligan has spoken publicly about the NPfIT for the first time since he left the programme.  His comments are reported by Smarthealthcare.com which quotes Halligan as saying at HC2010 at Birmingham that:

-  The NHS has had too much money in the last decade, which has allowed projects to be introduced with enough thought of how they'd work in practice.

-  The NPfIT has been too top-down and didn't engage enough with frontline staff. If Halligan could advise a new prime minister he'd say that culture eats strategy for breakfast, and unless any new NHS IT strategy starts from the bottom it will not work.

- The three things the NHS needs are leadership, leadership and leadership

- IT will be at the heart of recession-led changes.

- Good teamwork reduces mortality in surgery by 40%.


[Aidan Halligan is reported to have been a founder of the NPfIT. He wasn't. He was appointed senior responsible owner about two years after the programme was launched.] 


NPfIT ignored NHS culture says Halligan - Smarthealthcare.com

SRO changes threaten project success - and the NPfIT has had 6 - IT Projects Blog

Aidan Halligan biography - HC2010

NHS joint IT chief resigns after six months in the job - ComputerWeekly.com

Does this explain why CfH suspended some summary care record uploads? - IT Projects Blog


  • So in his opinion:

    1> There is a lack of a link between the project and the organisations strategy

    2> There is a lack of senior leadership

    3> A lack of effective engagement with stakeholders, specifcically users

    4> It's not been project managed effectively

    Sounds like 4 of the NAO's Common Causes of Project Failure to me. I wonder how this one will end?

  • Mr Halligan's analysis of the situation is spot on. Patients trying to get access and struggling have been shown no compassion whatsoever and are just shouted down, leaving them frustrated and disappointed. The IT strategy should have firstly included properly qualified informatics leads who stayed with the project throughout. This is a key failure in an area that was meant to support the whole structure of system reform. The very fact the no qualification is required [to access patient records] other then sitting next to Nellie to learn how to do the job is quite shocking after so much money has been invested. Until all key operational/systems/training staff have a recognised qualification we will continue to see implementation difficulties.

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