Government Health Minister Jeremy Hunt announced today that the Government plan to move towards a paperless NHS. They intend that everyone should be able to access their medical records online by March 2015 – just before the next election. By 2018 all NHS should be able to access all patient records online.
These are brave targets. Will they be implementable by the time they want? From past experience that is unlikely. Governments have a poor record of being able to deliver major projects. Indeed this Government scrapped many of the mammoth IT projects that New Labour had initiated, including the huge NHS project which sucked in billions of pounds.
So, why do the Government think they will succeed when New Labour failed? What are they going to do differently that is going to cause them to succeed where Labour failed. They are likely to use the same partners. They are likely to use the same Project Development and Project Management methods that they used before. So why the big confidence that they will succeed?
They’ll concentrate most of their efforts on getting Timeliness. Quality, Fitness-for-Purpose and Usability will suffer as usual. Then there will be a massive amount of rework and the project will be very late and well over budget.
They really are taking a huge risk here – and I don’t think they really realise it. Do they really want to go into the 2015 election with one more promise that they haven’t kept and one more target that they have missed? Having worked on projects in the private sector and in the public sector and having managed many projects I would be willing to predict that they’ll miss their targets – and miss them by a long way.
I predicted back in 2005 that the big NHS project started by New Labour would fail – and fail it did. As nothing much has changed since then I can’t see how this will succeed either. I would be astonished if it managed to do what it is supposed to do by March 2015 – just before the election. In fact I would be very confident in predicting that it won’t.