Leader: Don't blame the user, blame the IT

Next time you can't log on to your NHS email or discover that Choose and Book isn't working, don't sit there muttering about useless computer systems, because it is not a failure of the system. According to Connecting for Health chief executive Richard Grainger, the problems with NHS IT systems are caused by the users - that is, you.

According to Mr Grainger, the failures in the NHS broadband network N3, could be avoided 'if people could read the configuration instructions'.

Problems with Choose and Book are apparently caused by it not being used in an 'accredited environment'.

Unfortunately, it seems the Mr Grainger has failed to read the instructions when it comes to his job and that of the organisation he leads. Connecting for Health is leading the implementation of robust IT systems for the health service. This means they will be used by medical and support staff - not IT specialists. That means that a system that requires 'configuration' may not be easy for many of its users.

If the configuration is problematic, then the system is probably not suitable for the user group.

As for Choose and Book, what environment did Connecting for Health expect it to be used in? The main users were always intended to be GPs and their staff working in myriad IT situations and running a variety of systems in a high-pressure environment. If Choose and Book is unreliable in such circumstances, it is not fit for the purpose. Mr Grainger should step down from his accredited, IT-savvy ivory tower and ensure that NHS IT systems and their implementation are suited to the real world.

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