The £12-20bn NHS Supercomputer - the National Programme for IT - continues to lurch from crisis to crisis. In June the programme's head, Richard Granger, suddenly resigned. Now users are discovering the software is not fit for purpose, and is significantly inferior to their existing systems.
A survey of Foundation Hospital Trusts has just revealed the horrible truth.
"The biggest concerns ...centre on problems with the Care Records System, mental health systems and maternity, but also extend to picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) – often cited as the great successes of the programme.
The survey results make damning reading, detailing concerns about the limitations of key systems. “Almost every respondent had concerns about the functionality of some part of the system and most had opted out of certain parts of the NPfIT system”.
For example, in the case of the Patient Administration System, a quarter of Trusts reported “major problems, with one having identified 60 areas less efficient than current system, where new processes will need to be introduced at significant additional costs.”
Most extraordinarily, because of its limited functionality, many hospitals don't want the core Care Records System at all, "even though it comes at zero cost".
Just let that sink in. After all those taxpayer billions, the Supercomputer is so bad, and so expensive to operate, that hospitals don't want it even though they're getting it for nothing.
And the Commissars' response?
Simple. If the hospitals won't use it, they'll be fined until they do.
Fined. That's right. One has already been told it will be fined £20m if it delays implementation, and another is looking at £11m.
Thus do the Commissars' manage our healthcare system- terrible strategic blunders, shockingly poor implementation, and those on the frontline simply forced to obey orders whatever the consequences.
Bad, bad, bad.
In fact, so catastrophically bad, that even in Whitehall the Department of Health has been identified as a basket case. As regular BOM readers will recall, it received a shocking Report Card from the Cabinet Office a couple of months back. And they were forced to promise A Plan To Get Back On Track.
But talk is cheap: has anything actually been done?
Ah, no. The DoH's own deadline of end-July has just come and gone with no Plan. According to them, they've been too busy "engaging with staff".
"Engaging with staff". Try telling that to the hundreds of thousands of demoralised NHS staff who are fed up to the back teeth with the hopeless disfunctional DoH "engaging" with them, and would just like the chance to get on with their jobs.