NHS wastes over £86 million of your dosh on useless websites

Leaked documents have shown that the NHS has spent a huge £86 million a year on thousands of websites that do exactly diddly-squat and in many cases 404.

Public Technology reports that the NHS Digital Communications Review shows one third of the NHS’s 4,121 websites had notable deficits in standards, and 1,000 were not even accessible anymore. No one expects quick, efficient or even careful procedure from the NHS’s hospitals – in fact our editor, Mike Magee, was almost killed at Northwick Park Hospital as staff were about to perform the wrong operation on him.

While £86 million is far from the dosh the NHS would need for a shake-up and better performance – and bless it, its medical staff do the best they can with what they’ve got – it would certainly be a reasonable start to a healthy kitty that could go towards underpaid nurses, cleaning staff and the rest of it. 

Local GP websites were rated as some of the worst out there, with almost 60 percent of the 671 *working* websites set up by family doctors had “problems” – the PCT says this has received “almost no recognition” from the public.

The NHS is a mess in the same way that fascist parties and dictatorships tend to be: different departments greenlighting and OK’ing papers and initiatives that contradict others, not moving organically but rather a chaotic mess with no central organisation, and at a great cost to the taxpayer.

The Precedent report, a communications agency, states that: “From the limited data received, it is clear that the NHS has little in the way of central mechanisms to track the costs and usage of all NHS websites.

The question is raised why these sites were developed in the first instance – i.e. due to a genuine need or if they were developed without evidence, on a perceived need only.”

The paper also says those Googling for NHS info are flummoxed, saying the public struggles to locate the NHS online with a simple search. We did a search for the NHS press office – first hit, or if you’re Feeling Lucky – while appearing bona fide in Google leads you straight to a 404 which the NHS charmingly says “Whoops!” on. “Whoops!” indeed – we’ve a feeling surgeons don’t get away with Whoopsies so why the bloody hell is the NHS getting away with spending heaps of money on garbage that is useful to no one?

The official line from Lydia Martin at the Department of Health is mind bogglingly flaccid: “We know that information is the key to patient choice and control as well as better outcomes for patients. As the recent white paper said, the Government intends to bring about an NHS information revolution to give people access to comprehensive, trustworthy and easy to understand information from a range of sources on conditions, treatments, lifestyle choices and how to look after their own and their family’s health.

“The Department will set out how it intends to achieve this with the launch of an information strategy in the autumn.” We suspect the “information revolution” will be more IT systems that do not work, and more bureaucratic paper pushing, a further waste of public money. Same old, same old useless spin that doesn’t answer any questions and tells us absolutely nothing.

We hope there is an “information revolution” but we’re not holding our breath.

* EyeSee: It’s worth pointing out that this sort of spending is typical of Labour’s cash-happy days of living on credit. We’ll have to see how Cameron’s lot pans this out – though Osborne’s Age of Austerity hasn’t been exactly Austere just yet.