Floors, Boilers and 6.1 Billion Pounds

The floor of the hospitalYes – I am posting today.  No – I haven’t been in World of Warcraft.  I’ve just been busy catching up on some of those bits of business that accrue during night-shifts.

My crewmate sent me a message today – she has actually managed to break her 4th metatarsal.  I think she did it to show solidarity with Wayne Rooney.  This means that she will be off work longer than expected.  Lets all send her healing thoughts.

The picture is of the floor of the reception area in the local hospital.  Look at how expertly the lino has been laid, see if you can spot the subtle repair-work with masking tape.  The patient area is little better, except that it has transparent tape sticking it down.

Why am I posting a picture of a hospital floor?

It’s because our station’s kitchen boiler is broken. 

It’s also because of the debt the NHS is in.

It’s actually been broken for nearly three months.  Initially the company ‘didn’t have the part’, after a number of emails from one of our station officers that ended up verging on the rude the company managed to get the required part.  It hasn’t been fixed though – instead it’s been condemned.  We are still waiting for a new one. 

We ordered new chairs for our station through a certain ‘high street catalogue shop’, our old ones were falling apart.

They sent us the wrong chairs, then took another three weeks to deliver five correct chairs.

But this isn’t about our boiler, or our chairs – it’s about how contractors deal with the NHS.

Everything is overpriced and shoddily done – because the NHS doesn’t complain, and it’s so large that any company ‘blacklisted’ by one part will still be able to get business from other trusts.

I have a friend who is a carpenter, he told me that his company adored getting contracts from the NHS.

“You can charge them twice as much, take twice as long, do half a job, and yet they never complain – it’s money for old rope”.

 It’s not just small things either for individual trusts, I’m worried about the upcoming NHS national procurement for IT.  It’s been renamed ‘Connecting for Health’ presumably in an effort to rid itself of some bad press.  The IPPR has already suggested that it will fail (for them it is the lack of consultation and and skills that is their predictor of failure).  The Register tells us about the upcoming National Audit Office report.

Remember – it is costing £6.1 Billion.

When we are sacking nurses and closing beds is this money well spent?


£250 million (the total NHS debt) is 1/244th of the cost of the NHS-NfpIT programme. 

UPDATE:  Thanks to commentors and emailers who have told me the the UK uses two definitions of ‘billion’, a scientific and an economic.  No wonder I’m confused…

My legal advisor has suggested that I state that all the bad things I’ve heard from friends placed in NHS-NpfIT and any other company are hearsay.  I am not suggesting that the various companies involved in the NHS are anything other than fine and upstanding.

Please don’t sue me – you won’t get much.

24 thoughts on “Floors, Boilers and 6.1 Billion Pounds”

  1. It would have been good if we didn't have prior experience to go on. IT programmes in individual hospitals are often overbudget and under perfoming.To do this with the whole country – chosen by politicians. Well you didn't have to be a genius to see where it wuld end up.

    It's the on thing about the 'ID Card and National Identity Database' programme that gives me hope – that it will be so costly, and so useless that after a few huge balls-ups that it'll collapse under it's own weight.

    Of course if you can tell me of a national IT programme that has gone smoothly, I'll owe you a drink.

  2. Yep – we have a kettle, but it takes four minutes to boil, which means that by the time we've made a cup of tea, we are out on another job and the cuppa goes cold on the kitchen cabinet.

  3. Ask NeeNaw about the secret cameras in station kitchens that feed back to control. As soon as we start to make a cup of tea they look around for a job to send us.Sometimes I think that they cold-call people to see if they'd like an ambulance…

    (Obviously I'm joking)

  4. I did 2 years of a maths degree which means I am able to tell you that the figure is 5/122nd of the cost

  5. Is that a UK billion though?(You say Maths instead of 'math', so I'm guessing UK, or at least not American…)

  6. What I don't get is why everyone, almost from the moment it started, thought NPfIT/cfh was gonna fail? I mean them a chance at least. If all they come up against is NHS people telling them that what they're doing isn't going to work – what chance do they have of being successful?it's a shame that the inertness and fear of change of NHS staff is gonna stop what could've been one of the most exciting developments ever.

  7. When the acute psych unit I used to work in moved to new premises, we were assured that all the glass in the internal and external windows was unbreakable. Within a couple of months, a man managed to launch himself out of his bedroom window after breaking it with a fire extinguisher, sustaining severe head injuries and ending up a double amputee and a patient hoyed a chair through a window into the staff office, sending shards of dagger-like glass a foot long flying into the room, narrowly missing the three people who were sat in there at the time. Nothing seemed to happen to the company who had done such shoddy and dangerous work.

  8. who would like to bet that the same contractors and the managers of the companies who do half-Rsed jobs, don't deliver equipment, take an age completing work, charge a fortune for the work they do manage to get done… then go home and complain about “the state the NHS is in, where are my taxes going eh, too many managers and not enough doctors, it took hours before we were seen in A&E and it was a right mess too, my nan's been waiting months for her hip replacement…”

  9. In principle connecting for health is a great idea in practice its going to be very difficult to get it working! It's also costing a lot more than 6.1bn! I think that is just the central money that has been allocated to the project. Each NHS Trust is having to shell out more money to provide infrastructure and for extras which they can't get as part of the standard offering.

  10. Every time it rains hard we get trapped in our first floor offices as our ground floor floods. And they turned our heating off mid-march to save costs (ie, they couldn't afford to repair it), but nicely, now its warm, its come back on again. I can't actually completely close my office window. 1/4 of our building is out of bounds due to ceilings falling in. The healthiest food we can buy on site is chips with melted cheese on them (or onion bahji baguettes, which I have to say I have never seen anywhere else). I have to provide all my own stationary (thankgod for Tescos value range).But, atleast our trust will be breaking even. I want to go work for “Connecting for Health” *L*

  11. Oh, and when trying to set up an account last year in my old job for new stationary, and an IT equipment supplier, no one would deal with us as the NHS take so long to pay their bills.

  12. can someone please point out a nurse that has been sacked due to the current financial troubles?most of these posts going are ones that were empty, it will cost to much to make people redundant.

    the fun begins when staff leave and their post isn't filled – that will impact on patients care, despite what old Hewitt tells you.

    the NHS is shit at supervising contractors, the system at our hospital works like this

    you ring estates

    they get contractor

    contractor does work

    estate takes money from your budget, so they don't care whether the work is done properly or not, and everybody else is to busy to inspect work closely

    having said all this, the NHS is crap at paying quickly, so that doesn't exactly enthuse contractors

  13. oops, ignore the 1st line of my comment, i've just found 28 nurse's being sacked at an NHS (re)Direct call centre, with more to follow i think

  14. they put corprate manager in to the NHS, they try to run paticent care like a business but the one part that would work better if run that way is not. treat site maintance as businesses work and you would have better quailty and better costs.the 5 million managers to 5 care staff have got it wrong.

  15. Working within the NHS, but not actually for the NHS, I know where you're coming from. Bills get misdirected to the hospital finance department. They usually don't come into our department until TWO MONTHS after they came onto the hospital site, so I'd love to know what the financial bods do with their time! I'd like to think that my little corner of the repairs industry is reasonably efficient – most of the nurses bring us stuff that we're not supposed to be fixing, because they know we'll do it there and then. If they call estates, it won't get done for three weeks, and if they call IT, it might not get done at all!One new guy at estates actually fell foul of the other technicians for doing work straight away: they didn't like the fact that he wasn't leaving anything for them to do in 'overtime'!

  16. “why everyone, almost from the moment it started, thought NPfIT/cfh was gonna fail?” Probably through bitter experience of the IT companies being used.Before retraining as an Ambulance Tech last year I spent over 25 years as a mainframe analyst/programmer. I've worked with/for the likes of I*M, And*rs*ns (whatever they call themselves now, they're still androids) and E*S; and I know that they are great at selling, but rubbish at actually providing the solutions they (over)charge for! The reason they still get government contracts is because: a) every other major IT outsourcing company is just as bad, b) all these companies spend enormous amounts on “awaydays”, “team-building” exercises, events at party conferences and so on; to influence the relevant decision makers; and c) civil servants and politicians have absolutely no idea what is required when specifying IT systems: consequently the salesmen can run rings around them during negotiations.

    And when the system(s) are late and over-budget; instead of deciding to stop throwing (OUR) good money after bad and cancelling (which would require the bureaucrats to a) make a decision, and b) admit that they got it wrong in the first place); the politicians/civil servants are quite happy to spend even more of OUR money just so that they have something (however bad – remember these people aren't the ones that actually have to use these systems) to show for all the money that has been spent.

  17. hang on – so no boiler means you can't make a cuppa?I'd send you a kettle, but estates would take about three years to get some electrical type to check it over to make sure it's 'safe'.

  18. I dont know about Ambo stations, but in colleges and offices. Brand new equipment can be used for one year before the first PAT test. as it should be covered by the test done by the maker when made.

  19. no World of Warcraft? it's a good job that's all you have to steal your time, if you had guildwars too, you'd never make it to your ambulance :pI have done work for the NHS in the past and it took a vast time to get paid, so it's no wonder other contractors are reluctant to do work for them. Perhaps if there were some proper procedures for vetting the work and the workers it might smooth things along, but then again, it's adding another layer of bureaucracy to an already overflowing in-tray of paperwork.

  20. Having worked as an IT supplier can I just point out just how bad NHS IT procurement is and even worse it's implementation. Many companies don't actually see the NHS as people they want to do business with. They're reallllyyy crap payers, they don't stick to agreements , they don't bother to fund implentation projects properly and to say that the products spec can change would be something of an understatement. And the waste………….. Oh don't get me started on that one.

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