The British National Health Service is like all other government anencies: it will miss the y2k deadlines. This report warns that "slippage" has begun.
This slippage will continue.
How are your personal contingency plans coming along? Are they on schedule? Or is there slippage? As with every other organization, you must be y2k-aware. You must then perform an inventory. You must then assess your problem and make plans. You must then make the corrections. Finally, you must test.
Unlike their plans, you must build in time and money to overcome failed tests.
Don't blame the Brttish bureaucrats for slippage if you are also suffering from the affliction.
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Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office reported to Parliament today on the Government's plans to manage the threat of disruption caused by potential failures in their IT systems and electronic equipment in the year 2000. The estimated cost of managing the Millennium Threat in central government rose 6 per cent in the three months up to March 1998, to £393 million and costs could rise again as plans are refined.
Sir John examined the plans of the Department of Social Security and the NHS and concluded that the Department of Social Security, who plan to spend £45 million, are on schedule to achieve year 2000 compliance by their target dates, but that some parts of the NHS remain at risk of failing to meet the NHS deadline of 31 December 1998 for all critical systems to be ready and fully tested or contingency plans in place.
Sir John also found that in March 1998:
most Departments and agencies had a target date for completion of January 1999, but there are warning signs that target dates were beginning to slip;
not all risks had been fully assessed and in many cases robust contingency plans had yet to be developed;
no information was held centrally on the state of readiness in the wider public sector;
the timescales for action in the NHS are challenging, with shorter timescales than the average for similar sized organisations;
the limited information available on General Practice suggests that GPs, as a body, are likely to have difficulty in achieving compliance;
the NHS had yet to cost its plans, but initial estimates from an NAO survey suggest that the cost will be at least £230 million, and could rise; and
the Department of Social Security had a clear plan to achieve compliance for most of their major business critical systems by August 1998. . . .
Research by one leading computer services company has shown that it will take organisations with more than 500 employees on average two and a half years to resolve the year 2000 problem. If this average applies to the NHS, Trusts and Health Authorities will need to work significantly faster than other large organisations to meet the NHS Executive deadline of having all critical systems ready and fully tested or detailed contingency plans in place, by 31 December 1998. From our survey, it is clear that NHS Trusts have concerns about being able to meet the timescale and we conclude that some parts of the NHS remain at risk of failing to achieve year 2000 compliance by 31 December 1998, the date set by the NHS Executive. The limited information available at present on the state of readiness in General Practice suggests that as a body GPs are likely to have difficulty in achieving compliance. Although individual GP practices should not present particularly complex problems and the major suppliers have year 2000 compliance programmes in hand, the sheer numbers involved, the range of systems in use and the difficulty of ensuring that action is taken by every GP, present a challenge to all concerned, including the NHS Executive. Almost all Health Authorities considered that there was not a good level of awareness among GPs of year 2000 issues, and almost one third did not have confidence that GP systems would be year 2000 compliant in time. . . .
It is too soon to say whether departments will meet the dates of January and April 1999 for testing modified systems. Overall departments and agencies claim that they have the necessary skilled resources available in house or from existing suppliers of contracted out services, but there is a risk that as more detailed work is done, revealing the need for additional skilled staff, sufficient staff will not be available, or costs will rise as departments and agencies find they have to pay premium rates. Already the Ministry of Defence have signalled their concerns about emerging staff shortages.
We are concerned that over half of the bodies examined have not yet developed contingency plans for what they will do if their modified systems do not work. The Prime Minister recognised that this is a serious issue when he said on 30 March, "Every organisation must put in place contingency plans in case failures occur in its own systems or in other people's."