During an interview with Penny Smith on GMTV’s News Hour, the Computer Weekly reporter pointed out that the health minister, Lord Hunt, had made a misleading statement when he criticised a report of the Public Accounts Committee on the NHS’s National Programme for IT [NPfIT].
Lord Hunt had said the report of the Public Accounts Committee was “based on a NAO (National Audit Office) report that is now a year out of date”.
On GMTV, Computer Weekly’s reporter pointed out that we had studied closely the report of the Public Accounts Committee and it was not only up to date in its findings but authoritative.
The questions Penny had planned to ask – planned questions on TV rarely get asked because good interviews usually go with the flow of the answers – are interesting nevertheless. This is because they give an insight into how researchers for mainstream TV news programmes perceive the National Programme for IT.
These were Penny’s planned questions:
“Joining us now, Tony Collins, a journalist for Computer Weekly magazine, who’s been following this story in detail.
* What would the benefits of this system be when it’s completed?
* This project is a multibillion pound upgrade – MPs say it is ‘not looking good’. Is this your reading of the situation?
* 12 BILLION pounds! Why’s it so expensive?
* Why is it not brilliant for that amount of money?
* Was the project too ambitious?
* What should happen now?
* Should the project be scrapped?
* Whose fault is it?
These are good questions, and ones that should be asked by independent reviewers of the NPfIT. We suspect that they have indeed been asked, but that the government is not happy with the answers. This would explain why no independent review of the NPFIT has been published. It could also explain why the government does not want to commission one that’s intended for publication.