C4 film tonight includes look at NPfIT

A Channel 4 Dispatches documentary tonight [9 March 2009] examines a rise in public sector spending, including increases in the estimated costs of the NPfIT.

The NHS IT scheme was originally announced as costing £2.3bn. This later became £6.2bn and £12.7bn is the latest estimate. So far about £4bn has actually been spent, but the NPfIT has five or more years left to run.

The film will probably include an interview with me about a meeting at Downing Street in 2002 which set in motion the NPfIT. Under the Freedom of Information Act, I obtained minutes of the meeting, which was chaired by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The C4 film investigates a variety of controversial public projects which have had millions, if not billions, spent on them and attempts to discover where the money went, who sanctioned the spending and why so little appears to have been done to prevent waste and excess.

Links:

C4 Dispatches website (with link to Computer Weekly’s article on the £3m NPfIT hotel and business travel cost)  

Minutes of Blair meeting which sparked £13bn NHS IT scheme – Computer Weekly  

NPfIT costs include £3m on hotel and business travel – and £150m on consultants – Computer Weekly  

 

 

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I think, somewhat ironically, that the Dispatches programme about wasted public spending was itself a wasted opportunity.

Why should I say that? Because Dispatches simply reeled off “shocking” example after “shocking” example, without sparing any time whatsoever to analyse properly the causes of the waste, or more importantly the likely remedies.

Call it a sloppy programme, if you like, call it lazy, if you must. I’ll settle for calling it a squandered opportunity.

For once the problem of The Trillion Dollar Bonfire could have been addressed by a mainstream broadcaster but once again the ambition of the programme makers did not extend beyond the soft target that presents itself so easily to the media, almost every day: poor government thinking.

Channel 4 would have been far better off using NPfIT as the centrepiece for the hour and drawing on your own excellent work, rather than taking the scattergun approach, which sadly diluted some very serious messages.

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