Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Abandoned UK National Health Service IT System Has Cost $16bn... So Far

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the waterfall-is-back-in-style dept.

United Kingdom 220

dryriver writes with news of yet another major software project gone awry. From the article: "An abandoned National Health Service (NHS) patient record system has so far cost the taxpayer nearly £10bn, with the final bill for what would have been the world's largest civilian computer system likely to be several hundreds of millions of pounds higher, according a highly critical report from parliament's public spending watchdog. MPs on the public accounts committee said final costs are expected to increase beyond the existing £9.8bn because new regional IT systems for the NHS, introduced to replace the National Programme for IT, are also being poorly managed and are riven with their own contractual wrangles. When the original plan was abandoned the total bill was expected to be £6.4bn."

cancel ×

220 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Think of the shareholders!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884341)

Couldn't that $16 billion have been better spent devising sneaky new ways to deny medical care from the people paying into the healthcare system?

That would be alot better for the shareholders and executives, and would probably only kill a few thousand people.

Re:Think of the shareholders!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884451)

I'm going to try not to feed you.

Re:Think of the shareholders!! (2)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about a year ago | (#44884683)

Couldn't that $16 billion have been better spent devising sneaky new ways to deny medical care from the people paying into the healthcare system?

That would be alot better for the shareholders and executives, and would probably only kill a few thousand people.

What part of "UK NHS" do you not understand?

Anyway, everybody is thinking of the shareholders, the lucky shareholders of CSC who got 10 billion GBP for nothing.

Zowee!

Re:Think of the shareholders!! (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year ago | (#44885259)

the lucky shareholders of CSC who got 10 billion GBP for nothing.

Sort of like the health insurers in the U.S. who have gotten a multi-million dollar windfall by people being forced to buy something but won't use.

great deal (4, Interesting)

beefoot (2250164) | about a year ago | (#44884367)

That makes the $1B Ontario (Canada) government spent in E-health for nothing a great deal to me.

Re:great deal (1)

FilmedInNoir (1392323) | about a year ago | (#44885335)

The gun registry cost $2 billion. Not Health, but was an IT fiasco. *shrug*

Re:great deal (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#44885439)

I'd like to see the SOW for all these projects...if they exist.

"Dayum!" (5, Funny)

wcrowe (94389) | about a year ago | (#44884383)

I cannot fathom any software system costing that much. I imagine even the people over at SAP are going, "Dayum!"

Re:"Dayum!" (5, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#44884469)

Yeah, It certainly is absurd. I can't even imagine it if you factor in the hardware to run it on. Assuming you spent half of it on hardware, you'd have $8 billion worth of hardware (which is just plain ridiculous). You now have $8 billion left over to pay people, assuming each person working on the project makes $100,000 a year, for $8b, you can get 80,000 person years. The project was launched in 2002, so even counting 12 years, that means they could have hired 6666.667 (nice how that works out) people to work on the project.

Re:"Dayum!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884801)

That is kind of like one claiming to be able to afford $680.00/month auto loan when one has a total vehicle budget of $700/month.

Let's see some what you left out:

  • non-development employees such as executives, managers, HR people, admin assistants, facilities management people, system administrators, etc.
  • computers for the employees
  • furniture for all the employees
  • building rent for the employees
  • any benefits paid to the employees
  • electricity
  • phone service
  • water, sewer, and trash disposal
  • Possibly data center costs

And that is just off the top of my head. Really, you should get a clue about business and ancillary costs before you go spouting off.

Re:"Dayum!" (3, Insightful)

the grace of R'hllor (530051) | about a year ago | (#44885217)

You can pay all of those out of the OTHER 8 billion dollars he wasn't taking into account to calculate the number of developers you could hire.

Note that you can't put 6+k people on a project and have it go anywhere. A project like this would have at most a few hundred people working on the various components. Wages, including support personnel like managers, are therefore an absolutely insignificant part of this. Hardware, dito. Utilities, dito. If you're spending more than five-ten million per year on this, you're doing something ridiculous and/or illegal.

Not actually producing something after 12 years, that's just the icing on the cake.

IMO: Taking that much money from government should be considered a very literal hanging offense.

Re:"Dayum!" (4, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#44885461)

Actually, if you put 6k+ people on a project, I'd fully expect it to go nowhere.

Re:"Dayum!" (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#44885243)

Even though I didn't make an itemized list, doesn't mean I didn't account for it.

non-development employees such as executives. I didn't disount these guys. We can lump them in with the 6000 employees working on the project. I didn't say that the 6000 people were all writing code. That would be even more absurd. This would probably include benefits as well. $100,000 is actually a somewhat high salary.

The rest can be lumped into the 8 billion I took off at the beginning for "hardware" Obviously, you can't spend 8 billion on hardware just to run the systems that support this. That includes all hardware needed to run the project, along with any service fees like electricity, phone service, and other incidentals.

Re:"Dayum!" (3, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44885107)

That amount is not for the software and hardware alone. There has been a big reorganization of systems and computerization of records. Staff have been trained to use what has been delivered so far, and patients are being asked for permission to make their records available on the system. It's not a total write-off.

Re:"Dayum!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885353)

Typically the customer gets charged between 2 and 10 times the developer time cost of developing the software depending on how management heavy the company is. In a lean company, a lot of that x2 covers office space, utilities and other less obvious costs. On the other end of the scale, you have the companies where each developer answers to 8 different bosses.

Re:"Dayum!" (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885395)

You forgot to factor in health insurance costs. From what I hear, they're quite high due to some boondoggle computerized records project.

Re:"Dayum!" (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#44885411)

Yeah, It certainly is absurd. I can't even imagine it if you factor in the hardware to run it on. Assuming you spent half of it on hardware, you'd have $8 billion worth of hardware (which is just plain ridiculous).

You don't get it at all.

Before you even start buying hardware or writing code you have to build some modern new offices and fill them with nice desks, leather chairs, etc. to attract the right sort of people for the management positions. Then you need hot young secretaries around the place and plenty of thousand-pound lunches to discuss their six figure salaries, annual bonuses and exactly what model of luxury car they'd like to drive to work.

Only then can you start the actual "IT" part of the project.

Re:"Dayum!" (4, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44884577)

I cannot fathom any software system costing that much.

Padding... The money was/is being stolen, looting the treasury.

Re:"Dayum!" (1)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#44885481)

Isn't that what happened to New York City's time system?

Re:"Dayum!" (5, Interesting)

deusmetallum (1607059) | about a year ago | (#44884693)

There's a lot to this kind of thing. I worked in a help desk once where a system was promised to be rolled out by X date. The contractor brought on all the staff based on that promised, kitted out the building with all the required hardware to provide the support and... nothing. The guys couldn't be fired, and there was no other contracts to move them on to, so they sat around waiting for the software to finally be rolled out.

In other words, it's not just the software that cost all the money, all the fuck-ups along the way compounded and inflated the price tag way beyond what it should have been.

Re:"Dayum!" (4, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | about a year ago | (#44885105)

I cannot fathom any software system costing that much

It cost that much because that was the amount of money available to pay for it. If there had only been £5Bn in the budget, the project proposals would (magically!) have cost that much - and would STILL offered the same results. And exactly the same final outcome would have been proposed if the budget had been doubled. Success or failure was not a function of the budget, nor of the requirements. Even back in the 2000's when this was still a comparatively young project, I was asked to work on it. I spent a day with some of the project people and knew even than that it didn't stand a chance of ever going live. Mainly due to the intransigence of the NHS workers, especially the doctors and consultants (who all believe the only function of the NHS is to keep them employed - any resulting healthcare is merely a bonus).

The sorts of companies who bid for this work, just like defence contractors, are masters at configuring their projects to consume all available resources for a constant output. The problem is that they are much better at negotiating than government employees (who have no personal investment in the project) and more highly motivated, what with their contuned salaries, bonuses and commissions.

Re:"Dayum!" (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44885173)

I cannot fathom any software system costing that much.

It is easy to fathom if you look at how the program was structured. All the incentives were inverted: nearly everyone involved actually benefited from cost overruns (the contractors got more money, the bureaucrats had the prestige of managing more resources, and the politicians had more patronage to dispense). There was no accountability (no one is being disciplined or fined). There is not even any political fallout because the blame is smeared out over multiple administrations (Conservatives can blame Labour for starting the project, while Labour can blame the Tories for mismanaging the implementation). It is like it was designed to fail. A decade from now you will be reading about some other project that failed in the exact same way, for the exact same reasons.

Re:"Dayum!" (3, Insightful)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#44885383)

I cannot fathom any software system costing that much.

Haven't worked on any government programs I see.

Start with lots of money, fuzzy requirements and add general stupidity in the contracts office and you can get a LOT of money wasted. Who's got more money to waste than the government?

I've worked on government programs that I firmly believe where managed to get as much money out of the customer as possible (not to actually *deliver* something they wanted). One such program had taken more than 3x the initial cost estimate, taken 3 times as long and was nowhere near half done (by my estimate) before it got cancelled. Mission accomplished... (I made the mistake of actually voicing this theory in the midst of the program too.. I don't work there anymore...)

And here in the US we are rushing head long into government run health care... Yikes.. It's going to be way more expensive than you can imagine.

Lost cause (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884387)

My father was contracted a few years ago as a consultant to help update the NHS's infrastructure. After a year working there for a year he ended his contract. He said that it was impossible to get anything done because the higher ups didn't listen to the engineers and project managers on the teams. There was also a lot of unmotivated and lazy people working on the teams that slowed everything down. Politics also played a big part and people cared more about keeping their comfy job that never really had an end date than finishing the project.

Re:Lost cause (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884653)

After a year working there for a year he ended his contract.

I'm glad they didn't try to scam him on his timeline. I've had weeks were I worked two weeks but only got paid and recorded for one. I left that place, now I work at a different company that actually tries to maintain a congruous temporal reference frame between all offices.

Re:Lost cause (1)

TexNex (513254) | about a year ago | (#44884791)

Thats fairly common with IT install projects. Between mission creep and idle time (usually caused by mission creep and work outage disputes) its surprising anything gets done on these contracts. Install projects take a special kind of insanity to manage.

Re:Lost cause (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885065)

On the NHS projects I was working on, most things were working nicely on Sun systems. Then came this big idea that they should change everything and use Microsoft windows. Chaos ensued. I did what I could for about 2 years, but could just see the change going nowhere. In the meantime, the old systems just kept running.

Excellent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884395)

Government taking over healthcare! And pretty much everything else! What could possibly go wrong?! Keep spending other people's money!

Re:Excellent! (1, Redundant)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#44884475)

Terrible. Government taking over health care and a mere 50 years later they waste billions on an IT project.

Re:Excellent! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884513)

And because the private sector always does everything better, they wasted billions contracting it out to the private sector.

Re:Excellent! (2)

plopez (54068) | about a year ago | (#44884809)

I bet the in-house developed and/or maintained legacy systems developed in the 70's, 80's, and 90's are still working fine. That was what happened when I was working for a University. The new system they bought from the was garbage but the systems built over the previous 20 years both in-house and through a vendor that specialized in University systems and university systems *only* worked fine. It problem was they did not have shiney new UIs. Oh, and the vendor scared the managers into purchasing their garbage using Y2K, which as it was later revealed their application was not Y2K compliant either. And of course said made extra money fixing the problem. Meanwhile the in-house staff and specialized vendor ensured their apps were Y2K compliant far before the Y2K arrived.

It was no surprise when was sued by a number of organizations.

Re:Excellent! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884853)

The funny thing is: this horribly wasteful government system is still about twice as efficient as the perfectly organised private system in the US!

Re:Excellent! (2)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44884993)

That's the thing, there's always going to be problems with the health care system, but when one system spends twice as much per capita as another, for worse results, only a die hard fascist would continue to support profits being made for inferior results.

This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (4, Funny)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#44884413)

Thank God that here in the U.S. we're protected from this kind of system. Sure, getting sick here without insurance can bankrupt you, drive you into lifelong debt, etc. But at least we don't have to put up with any red tape in our health care system!

America, America, God shed his grace on theeeeee!

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (4, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44884427)

Unfortunately, what we're seeing is a preview of what I expect with Obamacare.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884517)

What's all the rage about Obamacare?

If you listen to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7LF5Vj2n64 @ 1:10 I wonder what exactly Americans do get for their money?

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884533)

We get more tests than anyone else because the doctors are paid per test^W^W^Wafraid they might miss something and get sued.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

Petron (1771156) | about a year ago | (#44884979)

They are afraid they will get sued.

If you are a doctor, and you are sued for malpractice, even if you are proven innocent, your career is over. So doctors all try to cover their ass as much as they can and order every test that MIGHT help prevent a suit from going forth. So as more and more doctors are asking for more tests... Hmm high demand, limited supply... what happens?

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885133)

I see you don't know any doctors. Many get sued for malpractice with no basis for the lawsuit all the time. They still keep practicing unless they've done something actually wrong and get their state medical board against them.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (3, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44885457)

Oh, BS. I've been sued before (unsuccessfully) and my career is hardly over. I have to review the applications of new docs coming into our system and quite a number of them have been sued successfully in the past. We need to perform due diligence, so I look at the reviews of the case, it's almost invariably bizarre. A doc sued for not preventing a heart attack when the last time he saw the patient was eight months before the event. A radiologist sued for missing a breast cancer that only one expert witness (out of five) saw on a mammogram. And on and on.

If we see someone who is sued repeatedly, then you have a big red flag. But it is rarity for an experienced practitioner not to have been sued at least once.

And yes, 'defensive medicine' is real - cost estimates range from 10-20% of the US health care dollar, so it's quite significant. But it's hard to pin down exactly what is meant by defensive medicine. It's not just fear of being sued - more of it comes from the understandable desire to get the diagnosis correct. Nobody, but nobody, knows just what the 'right' level of medical testing is appropriate. I suspect this will remain true for quite some time. Even in diagnoses that have been studied carefully, like a lot of heart diseases, we still don't know what the best treatment strategy is when patients deviate from study populations (like having two diseases simultaneously, the horror).

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (5, Informative)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#44884711)

The thing is that every post on every site you see about "Obamacare" is an accusation with no facts to back it up, just like the post you replied to.

Fox News did two identical polls recently, the only difference being the term for the program "Affordable Care Act" or "Obamacare" was used. When there was a significantly higher percentage of people that liked the act when it's called the ACA than when it is called Obamacare.

The debate against Obamacare has been the most fact free debate that the U.S. has seen in years. It's a screen for every projection of every annoyance we have about healthcare in the U.S. The people that are preaching against it the loudest have no idea what it really is and they show it daily.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (3, Informative)

coolsnowmen (695297) | about a year ago | (#44884845)

I agree, but it has been mostly fact free because the law that was passed only dictates that the regulations need to be written, that is, we haven't really seen what the end result of the ACA passage will be.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44885079)

We already know what the results will be, the care will improve, the costs will go down and if it doesn't work, the private insurers will be removed from the equation. That's basically what happened in the UK when they first tried to reform health care.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44885473)

You mind sharing what you're smoking? Or is that sarcasm I'm smelling?

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884867)

Thank you! I was afraid that this is the case. Well, same old same old. At least you guys don't have to bother with the constant fear of the imminent "EURO CRYSIS"
(Heck yeah! That would be a great name for a game)

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44885055)

That's because most people that use the term "Obamacare" are doing it to disparage the President. I use the term because it's an accomplishment that the President should be proud of. It's just that until next month when people can start signing up, a lot of people view it as a failed initiative. Even though those plans don't start until the first of the year.

As soon as people start to actually get those plans, it's going to be impossible for the GOP to get them away from us. It's also harder to scare people about health related matters when they have access to affordable health care.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#44884549)

Naw, the primary burden of all those computer upgrades was stuffed upon insurers and hospitals/clinics instead, who quietly did the required systems upgrades with a minimal amount of fuss over the last couple of years. (Except the ones in denial who are now panicking.) They rolled it into their planned systems upgrades, and while the software was a large investment, it also replaced outdated systems with much smoother modern records systems.

About the only major issue with the electronic medical records that some of them are discovering is that clinics which specialize in areas frequented by the elderly consume more data storage since their existing records must be scanned and some of them are 100 pages long. (So a 1TB SAN quickly had to become a 4TB SAN at one clinic since they'd used up 500 GB in about six months.)

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (3, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44884597)

The silly thing is that 'obamacare' doesn't actually change anything. Same doctors, same hospitals, same procedures. No grandiose new projects. For most people, same insurance company. All it does is subsidize health insurance to make it affordable to those on low income - that's it.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884737)

The silly thing is that 'obamacare' doesn't actually change anything. Same doctors, same hospitals, same procedures. No grandiose new projects. For most people, same insurance company. All it does is subsidize health insurance to make it affordable to those on low income - that's it.

Exactly! That's why it's so doubleplusungood! If we'd just let all those unsightly poor people go away instead of all this "helping the sick" and "humanitarian" falderol, it would make the country look so much cleaner, the average income would increase substantially, we'd have far less of that dreadful crying noise we keep hearing every time we cut one of their jobs (why on earth can't they understand that if we keep flushing money away by paying them, we can't afford to keep up our yachts and horse farms?), and everything would just be so much better!

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (3, Informative)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44884775)

2009 just called. They want their blatant lies back.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884829)

It made my deductable quadruple. Is that a factor in the subsidies or am I going to get a double whammy while my tax dollars are funneled to yet another unproven and inefficient social program?

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884903)

All it does is subsidize health insurance to make it affordable to those on low income - that's it.

*Ahem* Someone is going to have to pay for that.

And it won't be all those low income people.

And it won't be any of the people exempted from Obamacare; like most unions and Federal employees.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

jareth-0205 (525594) | about a year ago | (#44884985)

All it does is subsidize health insurance to make it affordable to those on low income - that's it.

*Ahem* Someone is going to have to pay for that.

And it won't be all those low income people.

And it won't be any of the people exempted from Obamacare; like most unions and Federal employees.

Yeah. Fuck 'em, right? Let 'em, die?

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885237)

Yep. Tell you what--why don't you go ahead and pay my share too. I didn't vote for the clowns who passed this crap, so why should I have to pay for it?

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885295)

All it does is subsidize health insurance to make it affordable to those on low income - that's it.

*Ahem* Someone is going to have to pay for that.

And it won't be all those low income people.

And it won't be any of the people exempted from Obamacare; like most unions and Federal employees.

Yeah. Fuck 'em, right? Let 'em, die?

Well, if you're willing to pay for a plan that's so wonderful that it was passed by a congress that exempted itself from it.

And signed into law by a president who's also exempted from it.

Aside from that, it sounds like a great idea.

Of course it still has to be paid for and as usual that's going to fall on the poor working stiffs.

And many businesses are already making plans to cut back on employee hours to escape the insurance increases. Which means less pay and higher costs passed those aforementioned working stiffs.

But hey, fuck 'em, right?

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885301)

The current system does not, instead it waits until they get really sick then treats them for the emergency at much greater cost, then they go bankrupt and the hospital does not get paid and so everyone else foots a much larger bill than the cost of prevention in the first place.

This is what makes it so crazy, if the republicans want to get rid of it in order to save money for the "deserving" they should first put through the "Go die in a gutter" act to strip the protections off all those too poor or too old or unlucky with pre existing conditions, otherwise the costs will just keep on going up.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

plopez (54068) | about a year ago | (#44884821)

As if insurance companies do not have red tape. Or death panels, they kill people all the time by denying care. Or computer systems that are running on bubble gum and bailing wire. God Bless the Insurance Companies!

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44885023)

That's because you're crazy. But, thankfully you'll be able to get affordable coverage starting in a few months.

Honestly, when you look at the cost of health care in America compared with even the most expensive systems in the developed world, the costs are higher here and the outcomes are inferior.

In other words, it may cost more in the near term as preventative care becomes more accessible. But, fewer people using the ER for primary care and fewer bankruptcies caused by medical bills should start to bring the costs down fairly quickly. Then in a few decades the savings from preventative care should be apparent.

It's mostly people who watch Fox Noise and have no idea what it is that they're paying for when they go to the doctor's office that are afraid. All that charity care isn't being paid for by the government, it's being tacked on to the cost of insurance.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44885167)

I don't particularly follow the news on this subject that closely, and I certainly don't align with either major party.

What I do follow are my finances, and the fact that when I went back to school in 2011, just after this was passed, I could afford insurance. Even though the coverage wasn't the best, my employer also kicked $100 a month into a health savings account to handle the high deductible. This was actually a very effective system, as it also allowed him to help out with routine dental and vision without providing specific coverage. Now, I've got my degree, a better paying job, and the costs have risen to where I cannot find affordable insurance. I'm better off paying out of pocket and paying the penalty.

Affordable Care Act my arse.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885365)

Costs of new treatments have been constantly going up. this has put cost pressure on every developed nation, but the current American system does not yet act in any way limit the expense, the affordable care act was an attempt to stem the rise not cut the costs. Companies took advantage of the panic to raise prices, but most of the important cost cutting measures are still yet to arrive, in order to get it passed the dates for activation where pushed back years.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

mi (197448) | about a year ago | (#44884547)

Sure, getting sick here without insurance can bankrupt you

Getting sick without insurance may bankrupt you everywhere, where insurance companies are the dominant payers for healthcare.

The problem outlined by this news is that, when the insurer has no competition, they can continue raising their premiums to no end and survive any sort of idiotic inefficiencies and waste. The joys of the "single-payer" system, that Obamacare is the harbinger for...

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884637)

Yep, there's no raising of premiums in the US, and no idiotic inefficiencies and waste in the US. If you work in a doctor's office, you know how streamlined all the insurance companies are, and how the patients complain that somehow they just keep getting more for less!

Besides, did you stop to think that somebody is profiting from this mess? It's not the bureaucracy of the single-payer system. It's the people empowered to sell to them.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (0)

mi (197448) | about a year ago | (#44884777)

All of the problems you are mentioning would only get worse, when the insurers don't need to compete with other insurers.

The solution is not to reduce the competition, but to increase it.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

IanCal (1243022) | about a year ago | (#44884697)

The problem outlined by this news is that, when the insurer has no competition, they can continue raising their premiums to no end and survive any sort of idiotic inefficiencies and waste.

Yep, which is why the US has such a low per capita cost for healthcare and the UK has such a high per capita cost.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

mi (197448) | about a year ago | (#44884833)

Yep, which is why the US has such a low per capita cost for healthcare and the UK has such a high per capita cost.

US' higher expenditures are explained by the availability of much better treatments. Once the government officials begin deciding, what's "appropriate" (depending on the patient's age, health, station in life, political leanings), we will, likely have the costs reduced, yes...

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#44885159)

Most of those treatments are available because it's more profitable to neglect preventative care and treat the chronic conditions that result from it. We do very well at treating strokes and heart disease at later stages because we allow for the conditions that are likely to lead to those disorders to crop up unchecked. And then spend a crapload of money treating something that could have been prevented.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885193)

That must be the reason, why the US has a far higher child mortality and lesser epectancy than any Western European country.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (5, Informative)

IanCal (1243022) | about a year ago | (#44885203)

The US has a higher per capita cost than any other country in the world, is that because you have the best healthcare in the world?

The United States life expectancy of 78.4 years at birth, up from 75.2 years in 1990, ranks it 50th among 221 nations, and 27th out of the 34 industrialized OECD countries, down from 20th in 1990.[2][3] Of 17 high-income countries studied by the National Institutes of Health in 2013, the United States had the highest or near-highest prevalence of infant mortality, heart and lung disease, sexually transmitted infections, adolescent pregnancies, injuries, homicides, and disability. Together, such issues place the U.S. at the bottom of the list for life expectancy. On average, a U.S. male can be expected to live almost four fewer years than those in the top-ranked country.[4] According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States spent more on health care per capita ($8,608), and more on health care as percentage of its GDP (17.9%), than any other nation in 2011. The Commonwealth Fund ranked the United States last in the quality of health care among similar countries, and notes U.S. care costs the most. In a 2013 Bloomberg ranking of nations with the most efficient health care systems, the United States ranks 46th among the 48 countries included in the study.[5]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]
And finally, you can get private healthcare in the UK too.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884655)

Every american I know has moved here takes about 6 months before they realise private healthcare is basically evil.
I hope you never find out how 'insured' you really are.

Re:This is what Ronald Regan protected us from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884967)

Do you think people don't get sick and die broke in the UK? Just because it's government subidised does not mean that you get the same care as the queen of england. If you want that sort of care you pay extra. If you want to get care with the unwashed masses then you get the bare minimum and still die anyway.

NHS software: open source it !! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884415)

So, with all that money spent,
how can we, the taxpayer, get the
code open sourced ??

Re:NHS software: open source it !! (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about a year ago | (#44884453)

That much money spent on a failed software product? I think releasing it in the public domain would violate a dozen geneva convention regulations. It could be legitimately argued that the code base would constitute a weapon of mass destruction.

No, the only way to effectively handle that steaming pile of...code...is to destroy all copies but one, which you then entomb in a sealed vault miles under the surface of the earth with warnings in every language imaginable.

Re:NHS software: open source it !! (1)

RoboJ1M (992925) | about a year ago | (#44884891)

I say we dust off and nuke it from space.
It's the only way to be sure.

But yeah, source code please or it never happened and we want a refund.

IT employees rejoice (3, Funny)

advid.net (595837) | about a year ago | (#44884433)

Usually when I hear about a doomed IT project, I share my optimism with other colleagues:
this means that we still have plenty of IT job offers guaranteed by these failing managements.

Re:IT employees rejoice (1)

kaur (1948056) | about a year ago | (#44884685)

Indeed. The money did not disappear into a puff of smoke, but was distributed among Slashdot readers and the rest of UK IT industry. (Of course, various consultants and business process analysts got their share, too.) Better than spending resources on agriculture or education, any day!

Re:IT employees rejoice (1)

advid.net (595837) | about a year ago | (#44885037)

Of course you're right to ironically point out that tax payers money should have been better spent, especially for struggling sectors.

In that case I would rather have mixed feelings: too bad for the country, those wasted resources are a shame. Still good news for IT jobs.
And employees are not the ones to blame. We are not parasites fed in an ecosystem maintained by a deficient management. Or are we?

THE BRITISH WAY !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884463)

Get yourselves into a mess and hope the Americans will save your asses !! Again !! Obama don't play that game !!

Oblig. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884467)

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Re:Oblig. (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | about a year ago | (#44884943)

Well, yes, they did.

Price went up by a billion or so each time.

(Haha, only serious).

To put things into perspective (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884519)

At an average salary, that's roughly the equivalent of 250 THOUSAND man-years. At that sort of price I expect nothing less than being diagnosed by the singularity itself.

I'll Save Them (3, Insightful)

khr (708262) | about a year ago | (#44884535)

I'd be more than happy to save them a lot of money by abandoning a similar system for a mere tenth of that amount!

Wait, aren't these the guys that defined ITIL? (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | about a year ago | (#44884567)

Isn't the British government supposed to have created the friggin' world standard for proper service management of IT projects? Do they not read their own material?!

Re:Wait, aren't these the guys that defined ITIL? (3, Informative)

Dann25 (210278) | about a year ago | (#44884609)

Dont forget PRINCE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRINCE2)

Re:Wait, aren't these the guys that defined ITIL? (1)

RoboJ1M (992925) | about a year ago | (#44884929)

Yep, sadly I think at some point everybody decided private companies would do it better and cheaper.
When all it really turns out is they did precisely *nothing* for 10 billion pounds.
If they are interested, I'll write the entire thing myself for just one billion.
I am literally one tenth the cost, it's a deal, it's a steal, it's the sale of the f*****g century.

Monolithic vs. standards (1)

gjh (231652) | about a year ago | (#44884605)

Surely for a few tens of thousands of pounds, it would have been better to publish and API for storing and modifying the info on (secured) web servers locally in a way that could be indexed and catalogued separately. Then, incentivize private firms to make and sell software to surgeries and hospitals that provide the API. Why do people always go for monolithic top down solutions for these things?

Re:Monolithic vs. standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884659)

Why do people always go for monolithic top down solutions for these things?

As you can figure out from the story, money. $16 billion going somewhere, and not actually having anything worthwhile to show for it, except money in important peoples pockets.

Re:Monolithic vs. standards (1)

durrr (1316311) | about a year ago | (#44884695)

Because the moron with the cash listens to the psychopath that wants an early retirement.

The moron with the cash doesn't even have to spend his own cash, it's tax money after all, so he just signs whatever sounds good and goes home.

Re:Monolithic vs. standards (2)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | about a year ago | (#44884701)

Yea verily, every large software system that works was made from small software systems that worked. Since they have to trash this one, why not have a look at http://freecode.com/projects/openemr [freecode.com]

Contractor Failure (3, Informative)

thoth (7907) | about a year ago | (#44884761)

Before all the anti-government bozos show up to point and laugh:

However, 10 years on CSC has still not delivered the software and "not a single trust has a fully functioning Lorenzo care records system". This failure, the report said, was "extraordinary", while CSC was accused of a "failure to deliver" and "poor performance".

Yeah, that's a private corporation failing to perform/deliver. They're too busy focusing on cashing their checks, locking in their revenue stream, and paying their executives to actually deliver the product they agreed to.

What the government is bad at is managing contracts:

"systemic failure" in the government's ability to draw up and manage large IT contracts.

"there is still a long way to go before government departments can honestly say that they have learned and properly applied the lessons from previous contracting failures."

CSC should be sued for breach of contract, sued for fraud, sued for damages.

Re:Contractor Failure (1)

RoboJ1M (992925) | about a year ago | (#44884957)

Too slow and expensive.
Seize all assets and nationalize them, fire every manager and conscript them into the army.
Good lesson for all the others, play the game and the rewards ($16bn) are tremendous but the risks come with catastrophic consequences.
>-)

Re:Contractor Failure (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#44885119)

What the government is bad at is managing contracts

Well, if you broaden contracting to the whole concept of being a professional customer with requirements, deliverables, change orders and decision making. It's not the lawyers to set up a proper contract that is missing, it's that the "the product they agreed to" is some vague concept that is all but impossible to spec, estimate or deliver. No contract can give you cost control when the essentials of the contract are so bad, it's just trying to polish a turd.

Re:Contractor Failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885419)

Poor acountability is bad wether it's the government or private sector. The government is particularly adept at wasting money without accountability or results. Mostly because the money isn't theirs, and all they have to do is raise taxes to get more. Vote em out? Sure, that's an option, but you're just going to get a new round of clowns that are equally inept and disinterested in the public at large. We're not anti-government because we're pro corporation. We're anti government because as bad as corporations can be, the government sucks much more. Corporations can at least be controlled by regulation, competition, shareholders (who watch their money a whole lot more carefully than the GAO), and the free market. The government just bends you over, skips the vasaline, and goes to town.

How much would EPIC cost in those circumstances? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884783)

Epic is pretty much the standard healthcare system in use in the larger places in America, and it costs millions a year to support. I'm wondering how much it would cost to use something like that, and have it in every department in every hospital in the UK, and whether it would cost more. Admittedly they'd have a working product at the end.

cheaper... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44884811)

why not test for the moonbat liberal gene at 2 weeks and terminate those who would build such socialist wet dreams?

Clinical records are hard (5, Interesting)

benjfowler (239527) | about a year ago | (#44884873)

Clinical records are the last big domain that resists computerisation.

Why? Because it's really hard to get right. You have a massive quagmire of competing interests, egos, a very complicated domain model and legal/regulatory environment that changes constantly and is different in every country. And to top this off, you have privacy whingers.

Common sense suggests that if it was an easy problem, they've have cracked it by now. As it is, I walk into my local GP for a checkup, and behind the reception, there's a massive wall of paper patient records. In 2013.

You have government of course (let's face it, governments have few very good people, and hire literally millions of bozos), but I'm not sure if it's any worse than the privatized, Balkanized carpetbagger-fest that passes as a health system in the US...

Absolutely not excusing the disgraceful and self-serving behaviour of the big integrators here (CSC and BT, amongst others), but they've blown billions for a reason.

Re:Clinical records are hard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885369)

As it is, I walk into my local GP for a checkup, and behind the reception, there's a massive wall of paper patient records. In 2013.

There should be paper records. Paper records are much more difficult to falsify than computer records, so there is a strong chance that the paper record will still say what was originally written on it when you look at it later. With electronics, you can never be certain. This an important consideration in places where reliability of the information is very important, such as legal, military, and medical.

The point stands that they should also have a computer system that the paper records are a backup of.

£10 Bn? Not too bad (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about a year ago | (#44884949)

After all, the olympic games cost that much - and they only lasted 2 weeks.

How to spend 16 billion (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885257)

I am trying to figure out how to spend 16 billion on a system that wasn't even turned on. Let's buy some servers. In fact let's buy one server every doctor in England for 10,000. Then let's spend 10,000 installing it. There we have blown 5 billion. Now let's hire some programmers: I wouldn't pay them less than 100,000 per year and I wouldn't feel comfortable hiring less than 4000 for the last 5 years. There is another 2 billion. Now let's buy a Boeing 777 .25 billion. Now let's headquarter in the 30 St Mary Axe (the big pickle shaped building in downtown London) we'll go way past asking and offer them a billion (Leaving us with a bit under 9 billion left) So now let's build a data center (Google can spend 1 billion on a data center so we'll spend 2). Now a good sized data center is around 100,000 square feet but often have plain ceilings so we will cover them in gold leaf ($25 per square foot/$125 applied) So 12,500,000. Now what data center isn't complete without a zoo? Another 30,000,000. Now let's convert the old records of everyone in England (60,000,000) for this we will just blow the rest of the money at 100 per record per person and spend around 3 billion (which is one of the few semi-legitimate expenses in this whole thing)

Now let's look at that last legitimate expense. Would you need all the old records converted? Does it matter that I broke my arm 30 years ago? I would even go so far as to say that the only data that should have been converted would be ongoing records. That is if I go in for an ongoing problem after the new system was deployed then that problem would be entered an backdated. So even the old record data could be a huge waste of money. Also any old record porting would be fraught with errors making the data fairly useless statistically.

My other guess was that this system was going to do some kind of stupid big bang approach. That is they were probably planning on shutting down every other system and then turning this one on. This would be stupid on many levels. The simplest being that they are then largely stuck with any design flaws. But if they had deployed a test system in a community of 5000 then they could roll out a few different systems until they felt good and then tried a small city of 50,000 then a few more small cities and then a region and so on. As everything fell into place and roadblocks were discovered and eliminated the deployment costs would just keep getting lower and probably be a tiny fraction of the first few tests when they did do the nationwide deployment.

I suspect that if you tried deploying on a nationwide scale in one go the system would have all kinds of WTF. What is the difference between an arm that is broken and a broken arm. Why can't people live in Liverpool? Why can't I mark a patient as dead? Why do you keep sending questionnaires to people who are in a vegetative state? How can a man be marked as pregnant? How can a fetus be marked as pregnant? Why do you insist on filling in the occupation of newborns?

But my real recommendation would be to do something radical and cool. You go completely opensource. You have a core architecture team who have the long goal in mind but you begin with all the low hanging fruit. Maybe the system for scheduling appointments with specialists doesn't work very well right now so that is the first and only feature and you deploy it. Then you move forward feature by feature. But in every case you tell people what is needed and any standards available. So you have some guy just send a patch with the entire share-an-x-ray system. Another guy does the share-an-mri system and so on.

You would also have a team of programmers that would be involved in high priority features that don't seem to get much love. And another team of programmers who just make unit tests for everything.

The beauty of such a set-up is that you can hire out various sections to as many companies as you want. Little 3 person companies or 100,000 person monsters. Plus with a continuous stream of volunteers. For this I would budget less than 1 billion.

Re:How to spend 16 billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885487)

My other guess was that this system was going to do some kind of stupid big bang approach. That is they were probably planning on shutting down every other system and then turning this one on.

FYI, October 1, 2014 is the date the United States will be shutting down every other system and then turning on their new one.

It was supposed to be October 1, 2013, but too many organizations were unable to be ready. Interestingly, the same percentage of organizations that said they couldn't meet the 2013 deadline also say they won't make the 2014 deadline either.

Straight into the pocket of Blair's pals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44885471)

This IT project did NOT fail. In the UK, this is the primary form of political corruption. Government ministers give massive projects to their cronies, receiving astonishing kick-backs and the 'employment' of their family members at the heart of these fake endeavours. The 'leaders' of these projects are people who are ALWAYS promoted to the House of Lords at some point. Meanwhile, the project activates endless levels of sub-contracting, so that the people at the bottom doing the real work are separated by as many sub-sub-sub-sub contracting shell companies, ensuring they neither care nor have the money or infrastructure to stand any chance of getting the job done.

After a few such failures, Blair's scum then justify massive sub-contracting to places like India, where some form of working system is spewed out, albeit of the lowest possible quality imaginable.

In China they shoot officials for engaging in corrupt practices a thousandfold less significant than what is commonplace with almost every Westminster politician. However, in the West, it is considered a perk of being in political office.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?