System Failure: Private Eye report into NHS IT

The current issue of Private Eye has an eight-page special report into the NHS Programme for IT and Connecting for Health. The report, by Richard Brooks, gives a history of the project since its ill-fated conception in 2002, and highlights the work of Computer Weekly and e-Health Insider in bringing the less functional aspects of the emerging system to the attention of the public.

What struck me most is the ticker tape running along the bottom of the report, which gives examples of what £12.4bn – the amount the National Audit Office estimated the system would cost over ten years last year – could buy for the NHS. According to Private Eye, £12.4bn would pay for:

  • 26,000 doctors for ten years, or
  • 65,000 nurses for ten years, or
  • The NHS’s record 2005/6 deficit – 23 times over, or
  • Every hospital built since 1997 – three times over, or
  • 200 years of currently “too expensive” Alzheimer’s drugs, or
  • 500,000 full courses of herceptin treatment for cancer patients.

Unfortunately, the report is not available online – although it will likely end up in the Private Eye shop at some point. It should be available from UK newsagents until 13 March.