Robin Guenier, former head of the Central Computing and Telecommunications Agency, reporting to the Cabinet Office, and founding chairman of the online healthcare research company Medix UK, has responded to this blog’s six-part series on the hazy future of the NHS’s National Programme for IT [NPfIT].
Robin Guenier is a liveryman of the Information Technologists’ Company and chair of its medicine and health panel. This is his personal view and is in no way intended to represent the views of Medix or the ITC. He writes:
“Your NPfIT analysis is excellent. But it tells a sad story. In 2002 the NPfIT vision, as announced by Sir John Patterson at Harrogate in March and spelled out in Delivering 21st Century IT support for the NHS in June , was a fine and ambitious one.
“Some dull people, however, (I was one) suggested that it was probably not the best way of proceeding in the practical world but my concerns as expressed in this article attracted little notice.
“Many commentators decided therefore that, if the NHS was determined to follow its vision, the best course was not to criticise the overall concept but to suggest how it might be achieved. I certainly did, banging on about the need for an accountable overall leadership, a comprehensive business plan, user engagement, process alignment and regular business plan reviews.
“I think everything I wrote and said about NPfIT over the years, including my recent open letter to the Prime Minister has been some variation of those themes. But little notice was taken and now, to my mind unsurprisingly, it seems that the original vision is essentially being abandoned
“The NHS has chosen a path not so different from that indicated in my 2002 article. No doubt it will bring benefits, eventually perhaps substantial benefits. But consider what might have been achieved by now if this path had been chosen five years ago when all that new money was available.”