NHS IT project threatened by a lack of skills

The £6.2bn technology overhaul at the NHS is being threatened by severe shortages of high-level skills, the service’s most senior IT professional has admitted.

Richard Granger, director general of NHS IT, said a shortage of talented people was causing “big, big problems” for the national programme for IT in the NHS. He cited the fact that between 100,000 and 250,000 jobs have disappeared from the UK IT industry in the past five years.

Speaking at the HC2005 healthcare informatics conference in Harrogate, Granger said: “There are real difficulties getting high-quality teams to deliver complex programmes.”

The NHS IT chief told delegates the traditional succession from analyst to team leader, junior project manager and inter-programme director was “falling apart”.

Granger’s admission came as a new report from the Work Foundation warned that public sector projects, such as the national programme for IT, lacked staff buy-in.

According to the report: “There is staff scepticism about the role IT can play in improving public services. Media reports on large-scale IT projects in the public sector tend to be negative, and focus on problems and ‘wasted’ money.”

The Work Foundation also said that effective staff communication and managing organisational change were critical challenges facing public sector IT projects.

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