Computer Weekly's campaign for NHS openness awarded

Computer Weekly has won the publishing world's "Oscar" for campaigning journalism in recognition of our fight for an independent and published review of the NHS's £12.4bn National Programme for IT.

Computer Weekly has won the publishing world's "Oscar" for campaigning journalism in recognition of our fight for an independent and published review of the NHS's £12.4bn National Programme for IT.

It is the first time a magazine has won such an award twice for the same subject - in this case, the NPfIT.

In 2004 the award citation said we had campaigned for a proper review of the NPfIT and had "battled against a strong climate of secrecy and suppression of dissent". That battle continues.

There is still a minimalist approach to accountability - what the British Computer Society described as political pressure for officialdom to "deny problems and defend the indefensible".

At the same time, the government wants everyone to applaud it for the achievements to come. But that would mean ignoring IT management in the health service, the BCS, leading academics, the NHS Confederation and several Royal Colleges. All have expressed profound misgivings about important elements of the programme.

To this criticism the government has responded in the way we warned it would. In 2002, when the programme was launched, we accepted that it was announced with the best of intentions.

But we questioned whether it was feasible and warned that the government would react to troubles by trying to head off perceptions of failure with statistics on the high numbers of transactions and registered system users.

That is exactly what has happened. 

The government can stop our run of success in NHS campaigning. It can commission what the programme urgently needs: a genuinely independent review that is published in full and it can be open and honest about mistakes.

Tony Collins' IT projects blog >>
Against the current: exploring the challenges of complex IT projects

Comment on this article: e-mail computer.weekly@rbi.co.uk



This was last published in May 2007

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