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NHS and Government IT Transformations Compared

I compared the NHS Chief Executive's Report (PDF) with Transformational Government (PDF) released a month earlier in November 2005.

In its vision, Transformational Government states: "Technology alone does not transform government, but government cannot transform to meet modern citizen's expectations without it." Amen to that.

Transformational Government's strategy has three prongs:


  • Services designed around the citizen or business;

  • A move to a shared services culture;
  • and
  • A broadening and deepening of the government's professionalism in planning, delivery, management, skills and governance of IT-enabled change.

Services based on customers or patients is a common theme in both documents.

Transforming government recognises the importance of the Internet and mobile phones in communications. These do not have quite the prominence in the NHS document.

Now, it may be that the NHS already feels it has already achieved a lot with NHS Direct and associated website. That is a good start, I say, but there is much more that can be achieved in transforming care with these two technologies.

Transformational Government specifically addresses the possible creation of shared HR and Finance services. Will NHS overspending lead to similar initiatives in the NHS?

On page 19 the NHS report emphasises the need for innovation and new ideas and services, However, it relies on a description of progress on NPfIT for its IT-enabled change—though, as usual, the question: "Change to what?" remains unanswered.

Nonetheless, there are some interesting snippets in the NHS report. Page 4 refers to a neurology outpatients clinic that is held in a GP’s practice near patients' homes. On page 5 a description of changes to traditional roles: emergency care practitioners and a bigger part in prescribing for pharmacists and nurses. Decentralisation and a move away from highly skilled specialists: a taste of things to come?

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