The Nhs £12 Billion White Elephant

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The NHS £12 Billion white elephant
NHS Computer Scheme Project

A critical evaluation of the UK National Health Service “£12billion NHS computer scheme project”, focusing on the way in which it was planned and executed, and exploring avenues where the project could have been improved and better project managed. The NHS £12 Billion white elephant

NHS Computer Scheme Project

A critical evaluation of the UK National Health Service “£12billion NHS computer scheme project”, focusing on the way in which it was planned and executed, and exploring avenues where the project could have been improved and better project managed. Justin Somanathan

9/1/2013
Justin Somanathan
9/1/2013

The NHS £12 Billion white elephant
NHS Computer Scheme Project
Summary
A project of epic proportions and after 10 years of investments has now had the plug pulled on it due to ever increasing cost and loss of original direction. ‘The Department has been unable to deliver its original aim of a fully integrated care records system across the NHS. Poor progress since 2002 has meant the Department has had to reconsider what the expenditure can deliver.’ ((pg. 5) House of Commons. (2011). The NHS mismanagement of funds dates back to its beginning just after the Second World War. ‘The NHS dates back to July 1948, and was started by Health secretary Aneurin Bevan with the opening of Park Hospital in Manchester. This was a hugely ambitious plan and the first of its kind to bring together hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians, and dentists in one organisation to provide a free health service to all. The NHS was a luxury when at the time there was still food rationing, a shortage of houses, also the dollar economic crisis and fuel shortages.’ (www.NHS.uk) The NHS was over budget from the outset introducing prescription charges and charging for some treatments. The government had under estimate the cost of the NHS by over 200million. And this trend has followed the NHS right up to this day. Is it a history of poor planning by management or is the complexity of such a large and varied organisation impossible to accurately assess.

Every organisation has a goal or strategy, and the NHS was to provide free health care to all relying on revenue from taxation; however they recognised the need for change and the forces pushing change and reform. Having medical records on file in hard paper format for every patient meant that patient files couldn’t easily be accessed. This resulted in increased labour cost and patient waiting times. ‘What the Department of Health (DoH) originally wanted ‘was to ensure every NHS patient had an individual electronic care record which could be rapidly transmitted between different parts of the NHS, in order to make accurate patient records available to NHS staff at all times.’ ((pg. 3) House of Commons. (2011). This in itself an ambitious project and something that had never be done before. Innovations comes in many forms and being able to fulfil all requirement of this original plan would have brought the NHS into the future benefiting all stakeholders. ‘The programme (NPfIT) was always too ambitious. It's a bit like building a bridge from UK to US - a good idea but impractical.’ (www.microscope.co.uk). That may be an slight exaggeration however replace a system in just one hospital requires a lot of planning let alone introducing a universal system for all UK hospitals that works is entirely accountable through all the project stages. One of the contractors was BT who had been given a number of hospitals and trust.

"It was meant to be a very helpful thing for NHS staff and patients but instead has become this amazingly top-heavy, hideously expensive programme. The problem is, it didn't deliver", said a Department of Health source.(www.guardian.co.uk). Lansley told the Daily Mail: "Labour's IT program let down the NHS and wasted taxpayers' money by imposing a top-down IT system on the local NHS, which...
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