NHS IT leadership slammed in parliament

A Conservative MP has blasted the management style of Richard Granger, the director general of NHS IT responsible for delivering the £6.2bn National Programme for IT in the NHS.

A Conservative MP has blasted the management style of Richard Granger, the director general of NHS IT responsible for delivering the £6.2bn National Programme for IT in the NHS.

Speaking in a parliamentary debate on public accounts, Richard Bacon MP said that Granger was well known for his aggressive management style in handling contractors.

“Mr Granger is fond of using blood-curdling metaphors when speaking about IT contractors," he said. "He intends, he says, to treat them like huskies: when one goes lame, it is shot, cut up and fed to the rest – apparently, that keeps them keen.”

Bacon said this management style might not be appropriate for the NHS. “Managing a massive IT programme is not like running a dog sled. I believe that that brand of macho management threatens to bring yet more chaos to an already tottering system.”

The MP also criticised key national programme supplier BT, which is contracted to manage the health system roll-out in London, a national network upgrade and national electronic care records. 

“My best advice indicates that BT has spent more than £200m trying to get systems up and running,” said Bacon. “That amount does not yet figure in its annual accounts.” BT has so far received £1.3m from its £996m contract to implement systems in London.

Official figures for the total cost of the national programme ranged between £2.3bn and £20bn, Bacon said. “The fact that the figures are so vague and varied is part of the problem.”

Liberal Democrat MP Dr John Pugh added, “There is the serious issue of what the programme will cost individual trusts and PCTs. No one will put a figure on that.”

NHS Connecting for Health, which runs the NPfIT, had earlier pointed out that a National Audit Office report had said, “The Department and NHS CfH have made substantial progress with the programme. They have established management systems and structures to match the scale of the challenge. They successfully placed contracts very quickly, after securing large reductions in prices from bidders, and include contract terms that include important safeguards to secure value for money for the taxpayer.”


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