Being an NHS GP, Dr Rant has access to one of the most highly developed IT systems in the world. If you think a Sinclair ZX81 is 'one of the most highly developed IT sytems in the world'. Or, in other words, Dr Rant has access to the kind of technology that a 1982 teenager would have considered obsolete.
Having decided to spend somewhere in the region of £20 billion on an NHS IT system (the brainchild of that well known technovirgin, Tony Blair) Dr Rant now have access to an email system that is marginally better than the stone-age NHS email system it replaced.
Yes, for 'security' the NHS has shut out most systems that normal IT people would take for granted (Skype, VPN, browser-independent websites and so on). I have to use Internet Explorer and NHS.net email for some key NHS stuff to work at all.
There really is no good reason why such systems should be browser-specific. After all, the Scottish system cost a fraction of that amount and is, quite sensibly, server-based and thus accessible through standard web-browers.
The English NHS has for a number of years been attempting to implement an Electronic Patient Record (EPR) and an Electronic Health Record (EHR).
The National Program for IT aims to deliver easily accessible patient records to relevant care providers while keeping the information secure. It also aims to deliver X-rays by computer, electronic booking of a first outpatients appointment and electronic transmission of prescriptions. (NAO report 16th of June 2006)
I was the senior Implementation consultant on the SCI Store project for 4 years until I left in May.
The only reason that the English system is so massively expensive and hugely shit is because the government have got into bed with Microsoft. And now Microsoft is snuggling a little closer, and has pushed the government away so that its back is turned and Microsoft has just eased the tip of its great, big, unlubricated cock into the government's arsehole.
As Mike Rouse points out on our new techie-type blog, this is bad for many reasons.
The BBC News website reports that Sharon Hodgson wants every MP to be gvien a free BlackBerry and has slated the alternatively available PDAs as "not in the same league". Well, the political arguments about what an MP already gets aside, there is an issue here to do with systems management and procurement.
It seems that the Government and the Commons has gotten so far into bed with Microsoft that they simply could not support BlackBerry devices anway. The Commons Commission, which oversees things like this, has invested "a good deal of time and money" on Microsoft-based handheld services over the past few years. It would seem that calls for more open source technologies within the public sector have been unheard. Well, with a sales reps from Microsoft being given amazing access to the public sector it’s not surprising that public money goes a certain way.
The inability for MPs to choose the technology they need to get their jobs done is a poor example of open systems management. There should never, ever be dependability on one provider, particularly when you’re dealing with such vast public data and finances.
Quite. And as for supplying MPs with Blackberries? Well, my response is the same as Unity's.
On the money you’re on as an MP, you can buy your own fucking phone, thank you very much.
So, Dr Rant's final question is this:
Exactly how much wank can you buy for £20 billion? And how much storage space does it take up?
Well, you can buy 646 MPs, and it takes up approximately two homes for each of them, plus about £110,000 in additional expenses. Is there nothing that our government can handle?
Hang them, hang them all but, in the name of all that's unholy, don't let the government handle the procedures: the scaffold would cost £84,000,000,000 and collapse at the crucial moment. Best that we hire some Polish carpenters, I think...