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Reference details

Author(s) Year Title Reference View/Download

Les Hatton

2011h3

Specfications: Sometimes, Safety-Critical Systems Can't be Specified

Royal Surrey Hospital, August 2011RSH-and-specs-17-08-2011.pdf

Synopsis and invited feedback

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Synopsis Invited Feedback Importance (/10, author rated :-) )
A discussion about specifications to a general medical audience covering why "Connecting for Health" was doomed from the beginning, (basically, it was specified by politicians and implemented by civil servants, neither of whom had the faintest idea of an IT system because they are not engineers but they were arrogant enough to think it didn't matter.).

It branches out into other major problems including some safety-critical systems which are so complex and time-variant, they cannot be specified. There are important lessons here but I don't think we will ever learn them. Instead we will continue to throw money at grandiose schemes which can never work but which might garner a few votes in the short term.

It would be nice if people who actually knew how to build systems were asked beforehand but this is clearly not going to happen. It is much more important that the suppliers be big companies so that the procurers (i.e. civil servants) can say that they used "the best".

I'd laugh if I didn't want to cry at the scale of waste, but if you really want to make yourself cry, read the bit about how BT charged GBP 9 million for systems which could be bought on the open market for GBP 2 million, (quoted from the House of Commons Select Committee report of 3 Aug 2011). How can the civil servants who allowed this practice or the BT people who continued it for several years live with themselves when times are so hard for everybody ? Frankly, it is immoral.

None yet8

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