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back to article NHS 'pays up to THREE times over the odds' for IT gear

The NHS is paying double or even triple normal prices for trivial tech gear including printer parts, cables and optical mice, according to a poll of IT bosses. Here's just one example of how the Department of Health is cutting deals that are worse than what other wholesale buyers are getting - and worse than what average punters …

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The NHS is, what, the third biggest employer on the planet? And they can't get volume discounts?

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Anonymous Coward

no

when you employ as many morons as they do there's no wonder they can't get discounts.

Managers in the public sector need stringing up sometimes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: no

Perhaps you should look at who cut all the volume purchasing deals for the NHS when they came to power and how difficult it is for invidual NHS organisations to procure hardware & software via their own means before opening your ill-informed mouth.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: no

Are they buying from a UK company though? Perhaps there's a premium as they're supporting blighty?

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Anonymous Coward

NHS not worst!

A headline that says NHS does better than retailers buying IT kit doesn't carry nearly as much punch... and if the retailers can't get it right....

i blame the 'shared service centre' centralise buying pseudo-science. Over and over, smart suited wide boys come in promising huge savings, ignoring the fact that many organisations already get good prices, based on detailed knowledge of what they need, and good relationships with suppliers. Then spend a few million on 'start up costs' and by the time people realise that your minimum wage call centre drones couldn't negotiate their way out of a paper bag, and the cost savings were never going to be real, you've moved on to your next contract.

But no - I'm not bitter.

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JLH

Getting stuff on expenses

I used to work for an NHS hospital.

I found it cheaper and easier to go to Tottenham Court Road in my lunchtimes and buy small items like cables and connectors on my own credit card and claim them back on expenses, rather than going through filling out a requisitions form.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Getting stuff on expenses

You're right, the procurement process is painful. I still work for the NHS, hence A/C.

Here's what happens when you have a process that takes weeks or months to process a purchase:

1. People don't want to do it too often. They might shop around initially; might even get a good price. But to avoid weeks of hassle the next time, they'll let a contract for as long as they can and for as much as they can get away with. That good price might look pretty uncompetitive two years down the road.

2. Suppliers want to preserve their margins. I know of suppliers who add 10% to public sector contracts. Just to compensate for the extra paperwork, changing requirements, and the fact that they won't get paid if they don't submit their invoice in exactly the right format.

There are also lists of preferred/pre-approved suppliers. I *think* using these lists is supposed to save time. However I've also seen projects where a company on the list has won a contract on behalf of a non-list supplier. Then all they do is sit in the middle skimming a percentage off the top. In one great case, moving from non-list to a list supplier resulted in a price hike to get the exact same service. But at least the procurement folks had the right boxes ticked.

And that's another reason. Unfortunately, NHS procurement staff often aren't the best critical or lateral thinkers. If they are they don't stay working in procurement for too long. And who can blame them.

Ironically, the reason procurement is so bureaucratic is to ensure that the NHS is getting value for money...

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Mushroom

Re: Getting stuff on expenses

I used to work in Primary Care (so I can chip in on the non-hospital side of things). I once needed a new mail server. I was quoted a fortune for some ridiculously over-powerd (but still not up to date) bit of kit. That weekend, I wandered into my local second hand computer shop and said: "give me the lowest powered thing you have." Some ancient single-core, <1GB little box was trotted out and I bought it for £20. That evening I put Debian on it. On Monday, I plugged it in at a practice and half an hour later they had a mail server for less time than it would have taken to get it done by the official people and several hundred pounds less. Do I think I was clever for doing that? No! And here comes the point. There's nothing particularly clever about what I did and the NHS is filled with people who can do this sort of stuff. Okay, not everyone can configure Dovecot or should (you don't want to leave a trail of unsupported kit behind you whereever you go), but almost every small group of practices has the ability to source its own equipment far more cost-effectively than what they're given. And even when they don't, the PCTs had yoiks who were perfectly capable of doing it. But none of us could. Well, I could because I ignore people in favour of getting things done, but for the most part, we're prevented by having to buy from a short list of approved price-fixers, sorry, I mean providers.

It's a racket. Don't let anyone tell you that this is just an outcome of incompetence or inherent inefficiency of large organisations. I found someone bimbling around a practice wanting to stick a USB drive in each computer one day. They were someone sent by CfH (Connecting For Health, a major money-milking operation unleashed by Labour) who was tasked with the difficult role of running a small program that would grab the specs of a PC which they could then paste into Excel. The intent was to survey which PCs were not up to spec for the new software and would need to be replaced. I asked him who he worked for. He said he was self-employed. Really? Then who had hired him? Athos - an american company. A recruitment agency. Oh, were they hired by the NHS? No, he was registered with them and they found him work. In this instance, they had leased him out to another recruitment agency. So were they hired by the NHS? No. They were contracted by Athos, an American firm. Were they hired by the NHS? Yes. So the actual chain of employment (and profit skimming) for someone (being paid IT person rates, rather than monkey rates which is what they deserved) was :

NHS > Athos > Recruitment Agency > Employment Agent > Muppet Who Took more than five hours to plug a USB stick into forty PCs.

And that was a national program.

The NHS use these things called "READ codes". It's an alphanumeric system of categorising drugs, conditions, etc. So mental disorders might all begin with E, manic depression would be E3 and the various sub-conditions might be E310, etc. I'm simplifying but it's enough to get the idea across. But they were being retired? Because they were old and out of date? Not really. The British Medical Association could approve changes and we had a big system for updating them as new drugs came out, etc. No, they were being retired because there was an American system called SNOMED. More complicated, but more to the point, privately owned by the American Pharmacists Association (actually a for-profit business entity) who could licence it to us for money. Even better, adopting the American system enables American Health Care providers to start flogging their IT systems to us. Oh, and Britain can't issue its own codes. We have to submit them for approval to the Americans and say: "we'd like this drug added please," or "we hadn't actually wanted that drug that your FDA rubber stamped on the lists in Britain, you know.".

And this one time (at band camp), I was involved in a procurement process for some IT support for the practices. I thought the above was bad, but this was worse. We had some perfectly competent people doing in-house IT support for the local PCT (that's Primary Care Trust, an umbrella organisation for a given region that manages various services). A decision was made to outsource the IT support. Why? No good reason. After pointing out that for the same amount of money any of the bidders were asking for, we could actually hire 1.5 ADDITIONAL IT support people, I was quietly told that outsourcing was what the people invovled wanted because then (and I quote this verbatim): "problems aren't our responsibility."

There are a lot of hard-working people in the NHS. And most of them are at the bottom. Corruption is rife and it starts at the very, very top. I left the NHS essentially, because I realized all the real solutions to my problems were at a level above where I could fix. New Labour did every single thing they could to sell off the NHS to American Medical Interests. I havne't heard that the Tories have done much to reverse it, either. The effects to the public wont be really noticed for a while, but they will be.

Sorry for the rant. And sorry for the state of the NHS. We did our best given the governments you elected.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Getting stuff on expenses

@H4rm0ny - I used to do hardware standards and backup/storage/DR for a FTSE100 - I had to spend lots of time making sure that appropriate hardware was specified and installed. This was also so that it was supportable and we knew where it was, in order that in a DR situation we could get the service back. It may well cost more - in the short term - to run an email server on proliant hardware in a datacentre, but when the office blows up, you know that it's backed up and not some obsolete hardware kicking around under someone's desk. That's when the money paid comes into play. What you did would have had you fired at pretty much every company I have worked for. Hardware costs are not the be all and end all.

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Re: Getting stuff on expenses

So in actual fact the cost of the extra bits you buy = The cost of your spare time going and buying them + the cost of processing your expenses, the cost of you filling in your expenses and the cost of the stick.

So if we assume the cost of your time is cancelled out by your filling out a requisition, then we are left with the cost of processing your additional expenses.

The cost of any IT purchase within an organisation includes the service costs of supplying it to your desk, which includes the supply chain costs for your outsourced procurement, so the headline price might well be higher, but the total cost probably isn't.

I shan't ask what you need USB sticks, and I hope they are appropriately encrypted.

And the idea that the supplier gets a kick back from the outsourcer is laughable, all I can say is that you have never worked for a government contractor in the UK, and been involved in a bid to a government department.

I do

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Re: Getting stuff on expenses

"What you did would have had you fired at pretty much every company I have worked for"

I actually anticipated a reply like yours and attempted to head it off by explaining I was aware of such issues, but I don't think you registered it.

I know what I'm talking about. This isn't about me short-cutting "proliant hardware in a datacentre" at a FTSE100 company for thousands of user. They weren't offering to do anything like that at all. They were basically asking for hundreds of pounds for an older model WinXP machine without backup, running VPOP3. Basically, the sort of no back-up jury-rigged system you are accusing me of deploying. The only difference is that I knew exactly what we did need and set up something cheaper.

When I started at that place, off-site backups consisted of one of the computer operators taking home an unencrypted back-up tape of everyone's medical records (stored in easily understood Interbase DB dumps) who would stick on a shelf in their kitchen and bring it back in if they remembered. (To be fair, she was very good at remembering). Everything I did at that place improved things. I appreciate you've just read a post about someone bypassing procedures to set up their own mail server and think I'm irresponsible, but actually I set up what was needed which was better than what they had, Debian with Dovecott is actually a pretty reliable platform (better than what they gave us) and the relevant point was that the solution they offered us would have cost hundreds more for something actually less suitable.

I wasn't even the IT person at that place - I was a manager!

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Re: Getting stuff on expenses

"That evening I put Debian on it. On Monday, I plugged it in at a practice and half an hour later they had a mail server for less time than it would have taken to get it done by the official people and several hundred pounds less"

And did you fully document everything you did, so if you left the next guy who supports it actually knows what happened and exactly what you did?

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Mushroom

Re: Getting stuff on expenses

"And did you fully document everything you did, so if you left the next guy who supports it actually knows what happened and exactly what you did?"

Well you're asking me to remember about a decade ago, but I think I recall adding an overview and set up document to the "Admin Info" set of documentation. A set of documentation that they did not have when I started, actually. Given that I was the one that centralised all their information and first introduced them to the concept handover documentation, I'm about 80% certain I would have put the essentials and a bit of background in there.

There seem to be a lot of people here certain they no best and who want to compare someone's briefly described behaviour with a perfect world. Hint - it was not a perfect world. Getting the offical people to set it up resulted in you having NO documentation of what you had. You were lucky if you could even find a username you were supposed to log into it with. Give it a rest people - it was just an example of cost differences.

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My assumption.

My assumption is, that some of those overpayments and inflated prices are agreed to by the buying agents in exchange for kickbacks.

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Re: My assumption.

Again another example where the Fraud Squad should be investigating the public sector.

I remember though working for a Private Sector firm (actually one of the largest financials in the UK) and questioned the IT dept why is was that we were paying £200 for a 32MB stick of ram from our 'preferred supplier' when you could order it from Crucial for £30 plus delivery especially with our supposed 'bulk buying power'?

I was abrupty told to "shut up!" which told me all I wanted to know. It's a fiddle.

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Holmes

Re: My assumption.

The UK is not immune to "corruption" or back-handed payments. Small wonder therefore that those suppliers that inflate pricing ride the gravy train while throwing out snippets to those they may need to influence. No wonder too that those who benefit within the order placement side are happy to do so knowing they are unlikely to be brought to book or even caught.

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Tender to me...

The tendering process is so long winded and entwined in red tap (read - bull****) that by the time it comes to actually supply the tech's half obsolete and a fraction of the price, or hard to get hold of.

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Anonymous Coward

I can vouch that 1 university in east anglia get a raw deal through their supplier.

Over priced kit and cruddy service.

As an anonymous coward I still won't name the supplier, or the Uni

But if it was up to me I would fire them and source my own

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East Anglia

Now is that just Norfolk and Suffolk, or are you stretching the definition out to Cambridge and down into Essex to make it yourself that biit more anonymous?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: East Anglia

I don't actually know, geography is not my strongest skill.

According to google maps I might mean suffolk, or norfolk. It's a thin line and I refuse to cross it.

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Joke

"I can vouch that 1 university in east anglia get a raw deal through their supplier. Over priced kit and cruddy service."

They didn't use it to calculate any tree ring data, did they? Might explain a few things...

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I can see why some gear *might* be more expensive

If the kit is being used for matters where minimal interruption to business is a necessity, then buying kit that is going to last longer makes sense.

eg buying a brand-name Memory stick rather than a no-name since the price differential is much less than the time lost and aggravation caused by it not working one day (obviously the correct answer to the problem is not to put anything important on it in the first place)

But economies of scale ought to kick in somewhere, unless one is paying then for the "dedicated sales team" and superfast delivery at the other end.

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Re: I can see why some gear *might* be more expensive

I'm not sure that the NHS is a single huge buyer, but I wonder if they are even getting down to the prices charged by the convenient High Street retailers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I can see why some gear *might* be more expensive

The NHS doesn't have any economies of scale. Lansley has made it his mission in Cabinet to destroy any collective bargaining power the NHS has. In removing pretty much all the powers of NICE to assess the quality and cost-effectiveness of drugs, he removed the only body that could have potentially functioned as a single purchaser of drugs for *fifty million people*, instead insisting individual trusts assess the costs and benefits independently.

But of course he's also massively reduced the size of trusts. Back in t'day, the NHS in England was dominated by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs), monolithic groups of professional managers and clinicians managing the resources of their regions, with tens of thousands of staff and whathaveyer. They've no been replaced by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), little cottage-run groups of the eternally trustworthy FAMILY DOCTOR (and not at all just the family doctors contracting the work back to the staff who used to run the PCTs/SHAs and taking 5% for themselves no nope not at all), while the previously large trusts have been either put under threat from private healthcare groups, or at least broken down into tiny, one-building "trusts".

It should come as no surprise the NHS is paying massively over the odds for anything, particularly IT.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I can see why some gear *might* be more expensive

Drugs are cheap in the UK. They are sold at some of the cheapest prices in Europe here. This is why some medicines are hard to obtain for pharmacies as the people who distribute the drugs are selling them to Germany who pay top dollar.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2106699/Drugs-shortage-Patients-lives-risk-medicine-sold-abroad-bigger-profits.html

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FAIL

Hmm

Why don't we implement something similar to what I've come across in parts of the US, where as a supplier to public sector, you are obliged to disclose your best price for the same/similar equipment orders that you have shipped to the private sector in the past 12 months (or something like that), and the public sector will pay at most that price for the goods in question.

Oh, no, wait, we're in the EU.

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Anonymous Coward

memory sticks?

Note that high street prices are easily double that of the cheapest online source (and it gets better if you allow for no-name or bolts-in-a-box type "online sources"), and that office supplies shops will also sell you electronics but often at high street prices again. Even the prices across online sources have quite the wide range, and delivery might not be included either. So that memory stick example isn't really useful.

Of course, there's plenty spending officers that spend over par, on kit and services and whatnot. And then they run over budget in money and time. The government is well-known to do that, so this study tells us no news.

Then again, this "study" is quite misleading, as it tells us nothing about just what was bought. If you want guarantees that you can buy more of the exact same kit down the road, you do pay over the lowest possible price, but you're not just paying for the kit. I could go on, but, well. The costs of running larger IT shops aren't limited to the price of kit. These numbers certainly look dramatic, for all that they are meaningless.

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Anonymous Coward

memory sticks?

NHS? Memory sticks?

Seems to me that we normally hear about these in other stories, you know, the ones about which authority has lost what data. Why are they buying memory sticks in the first place?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: memory sticks?

Why are they buying memory sticks in the first place?

to lose them

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Anonymous Coward

Re: memory sticks?

don't forget spreading viruses and malware... I've heard some horror stories about doctors wandering about with memory sticks, trying them in a different pc every time the one they are using crashes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: memory sticks?

If you found one of our memory sticks, you would not be able to read the data. They are encrypted. This is one reason why they cost more than the 32GB ones you buy.

Why have them? USBs are data transport devices. Not everyone works in a fixed place you know. Some of us need to take information from one place to another. Both ends are secure. How are we going to transport this 750MB of data? It won't go in email you know. No, we can't use our nice new Google Drives. They will probably be blocked anyway, like Skydrive is. I think HMRC already tried DVDs and we know how well that worked!

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Anonymous Coward

I work for a University and it's exactly the same situation. We have a preferred buyer that was arranged a decade ago and are unable to buy any hardware without going through them and them marking it up by minimum 100%. To the extent I could walk to Pc World or the Apple shop and buy 2 computers for the price of 1. The end result is we buy clearance level computer equipment for the price of top of the range. Consequently we

Depressing and there's nothing we can do about it.

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Anonymous Coward

so...

Do these 4gb usb drives available from the web for a fiver have 256bit fips encryption? We all seem to complain if our data goes missing, is it not worth buying secure products to facilitate this? if the comparison isnt a like for like then it is utterly useless.

Also the top hardware players all give discount for public sector bodies, such as NHS, education etc...these discounts usually outweigh volume discount available to commercial enterprises anyway.

I also think the 700%+ club will all come from a 99p cable being sold for £8.99- which is pretty standard to be fair.

Dont start thinking that they will pay £2000 for a £399 laptop. that DOES not happen.

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Anonymous Coward

move on, nothing to see here...

it's standard. At least in the "education" sector. I've seen it more than a few times, in unrelated "institutions", and my wife has too. Some of it is due to incompetence, some due to "I don't give a flying monkey f... about whether my organization saves or not", and some of it is - yes, kickbacks, either because somebody feels it's fair to sponge off their employer, in return for the true of perceived grievance, or because their employers don't give a f... themselves. Well, they would, in their official press releases, but this is just for show.

None of it is excusable, but then, what goes round, comes round. Just employ enough people and treat them as disposable tools, a good percentage will fuck you over, if they can, and the rest will do a two-finger salute at a thought of helping you keep the cost down.

but hey, that's a 0.5 sec news. I saw such waste 20 years ago, 10 years ago, I see it now, I'll see it in 10 years time, if I live long enough. These things never change.

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Boffin

Only three times the odds?

A Sheffield teaching hospital (I'm looking at you Northern General) pays £125 for log books for the wards. These very hi-tech and very expensive beasties are ruled hard-back notebooks with the pages numbered. Err. That's it. For a mere £125. Each.

The company I'm working for pays over the odds for similar notebooks at £10 each. That's less than 10% of the cost to the Northern General and still massively overpriced.

I'm gonna get me a contract supplying to the NHS...

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Anonymous Coward

Memory sticks are an incredibly bad example, most of the time public sector customers are forced to buy specific brands of memory sticks, such as IronKey due to encryption and data security requirements (irony I know as this doesn't stop them losing data). Prices for specialist devices can't be compared to everyday no-name consumer devices.

Same goes for things like keyboards in the NHS, where they have to have SmartCard readers and the like.

Fail study is fail.

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Anonymous Coward

So?

This seems like a bunch of people who don't really understand IT purchasing. Certain items will appear to be more expensive - For example I used to work at a major UK financial services company as "hardware standards guy", I would often have people demanding that they be able to source their own kit because "it was cheaper". Invariably these people didn't understand that the cheap crap from PC world, Crucial Memory etc, was just that and not suitable for the hardware that was being run by the company.

I lost count of how many times I heard comments like "A grand for a hard disk? I can get one bigger from PC world for twenty quid."

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Devil

Re: So?

Except we aren't exactly talking about enterprise or telecom grade kit here are we?

We are in fact talking about the same consumer grade crap but with a more expensive price tag and perhaps a service plan. You're in the wrong place to trying and presume the rest of us are ignorant about IT practices.

For the most part, this is probably small office stuff that doesn't need the kind of jacked up price that you would get from the likes of Sun or IBM.

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Re: So?

You're right, I'm one of those people, I don't understand, please explain?

(assume we're comparing the same high end model, not suggesting you get a cheaper, less reliable alternative... a 'Seagate Enterprise' 24x7 is a 'Seagate Enterprise 24x7' regardless of who posts it to you, right?)

As an aside, Crucial, really? I thought they had a good reputation for solid reliable RAM.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So?

@Neil - That's the trouble - we weren't comparing like for like - crucial memory, may well be pretty good but stick it in a proliant server and it's no-longer supported. Stick it in a desktop and the support company will no-longer support that desktop. A 500GB hard disk in a server is different to a 500GB hard disk on a desktop. I may well have very good reason to keep supplying the departmental printer at £5k, and not be allowing end users to have a personal laser printer on their desktop (this actually came up quite a lot.) No-one was getting a DVD writer to do personal backups on my watch when we'd just spent over a million quid on tape backup. They were, however, going to pay for that backup wether they liked it or not.

I was even faced with a situation where a department did go out and buy their own printers, then demanded that they be hooked up to the mainframe. This necesitated actually re-programing their mainframe software, costing far more than the printers would have cost in the first place (they had friends in high places). These printers then failed every year when they had to have a bulk print run through them resulting in more cost.

Basically what I'm saying is that it's usually much more involved than people on the department think or can be able to grasp.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So?

I'm not an expert but I *can* grasp the concept of somebody signing a bad contract.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So?

Okay then explain why the 500GB HDD cost a grand rather than say a more reasonable £150 (I accept that service and support has to be factored in and I'm being generous here). Unless you were just exaggerating the cost (as I guess some habits are hard to break eh)?

Even a 300GB SAS drive costs just £400. Or does it cost £600 for you or your mate to fit it? Oh no its the 2 years of 'support/service' that you still get to charge again for when it fails and take three weeks to fix it while the company loses X thousand a day.

Oh and Crucial actually make a lot of the "crap" ram that you bought in at ten times the price with "Compaq or IBM stuck on it through your 'mate' the supplier.

And I bet it still took you 4+ weeks to deliver as well.

The buying folks really don't like having their 'power' questioned do they.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So?

You didnt work for a particularly large insurance firm in Norwich did you?

Those practises/attitudes have the same fishy smell to me.

Took their IT dept 4-6 weeks to deliver a standard desktop PC with just XP/Notes and Office on it. Hopeless.

Oh and the legendary 20MB mailbox allowance. Those were the days.

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Silver badge

The amount of lobbying and missdirection

that goes on I'm suprised the NHS only pays 3 times the going rate.

Now if we enforced open standards on the way records were kept so we could 'Public Information Request' these things (oh and what about commercial confidentiality - you dont want a competitor actually being able to undercut you!) I think you'd find that a lot of large providers would, to use the legal term, shit themselves.

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FAIL

Disclaimer: I work in NHS IT. I see this $hit everyday. People need to grow a pair and stand up to their finance/procurement departments and shop around. It's nothing short of lazy and incompetent not to do so.

If NHS trusts are paying over the odds for IT equipment it boils down to one of three things:

1) Incompetence on the part of the procurement departments.

2) Finance/Procurement managers taking back-handers.

3) Just not giving a flying f**k and having no pride in their work.

Pay a visit to your finance/procurement managers house and see how much nice new shiny kit they have, usually stamped with the logo of the company that recently won the "competitive bidding process". Seriously, I have seen this with my own eyes in a previous NHS job. It does happen, far too often and it stinks. I've reported my concerns on several occasions and each time it was brushed under the carpet to save the blushes of the fraudster concerned.

Specialist IT procurement needs to be done by people who actually know what they are doing, not procurement departments who try to overrule IT on every purchase thinking they know where to get stuff cheaper. They know $hit all, and are usually staffed by people too stupid to get a job stacking shelves, only a public sector body could employ these people. No private business would tolerate them, as evidenced by the last fu*kup ad order sent to dell for "200 x Computers" that's it, no spec, no model, no nothing.

I now do all the IT ordering at our department because procurement couldn't be trusted to get it right. We get frankly fantastic deals from most of our suppliers, and pay less than the public rate at all of them. The PCs we buy cost £1200 to the public on the Dell's website, we pay significantly less than half.

As AC @ 12.04 says there also needs to be some parity between comparisons. We, by edict from them upon high in central gov, have to buy encrypted memory pens to 256 FIPS standard, these are considerably more expensive than a standard 4gb memory pen. Often the comparisons that lead to these stories don't think about that, they just see the headline grabbing price figure.

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Anonymous Coward

WOW, Shocked!!

Someone who actually knows what they are talking about!! It's so rare in modern Britain.

You are spot on, and if the general tax paying public knew how BAD things are, the outcry would be a hell of a lot louder. (Mind you I don't think anyone cares anymore)

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Anonymous Coward

Just looked around for a bit on that monster of a job advertisement website.

Most purchasing or procuring jobs, including commercial ones, appear to require several years prior experience, a degree in logistics, and proficiency with multiple vendor specific suites. Domain knowledge, even when the job ostensibly is about buying IT kit, is of no import. What do they teach in logistics courses, how to negotiate backhanders or something?

I wouldn't mind taking on the job if given the freedom to write letters, emails, and sql-issuing small shell scripts as I see fit. But that'd just upset the rest of the procuring department, probably. Can't upset the natives, now can we?

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Anonymous Coward

There are a few of us around you know

I took the trouble to get hold of the contract we had with our IT supplier. It took me a couple of days but I found a clause in the very small print where we had them by the short and curlies.

Boy did they squirm and wriggle but thanks to our legal guys they were stuffed.

Now any kit we get via them is at most a 10% markup. They maike a shed load of money maintianing the kit we have but buying new stuff is now realy easy. We tell them what we want and what the 'street'/'Internet' price is and a few days later it is delivered totally locked down and usless to just about everyone.

You can't win them all....

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Flame

The NHS It spend is worse than you make it out to be.

I used to work in NHS Management. The feature of NHS spending is that all PCTs put money into NHS procurement, they pay into it. A third party organisation that allegedly acts on the behalf of PCT's in getting kit at a bulk discount. Such as servers and services as well as kit.

This costs because everything has an attached price to it to pay for the staff in helping you buy the kit. It also adds three weeks to picking up basic kit and it also adds red tape and SLA's to getting basic cr*p.

When I was there last year it cost £175 for a £35 printer from PC world. And a standard HP desktop at £200 online cost the NHS organisation I worked for £569. The IT director's hands were tied because of NHS procurement.

However one senior manager when arguing against this went to PC world, bought the printer for £35 and then claimed it back, which worked out. So not all senior managers are spending like mad, it is the red tape forcing some of them.

When it came to large scale tenders the process was the same, the NHS procurement meant very little control or understanding was in the hands of the individual. I kicked off an arguement suggesting we should tender or at least ask round, rather than going with the £96000 quote. I asked a local company for same service and goods and was told £12000. I was met with shock at suggesting it, when I looked into the contract I destroyed it with a simple logic of asking questions which again the Directors were shocked that a third party comany might not be truthful on a quote. The quote had "server" for £2000. But no mention of technical specs, so we didn't know if it was a good or bad server, what RAM or HDD it had, just the word Server. I was met with shock when I asked what we got for our money as I was told the other PCT's didn't ask questions like that, needless to say my Director perked up and drilled it down because of the one-up manship that exists between PCT's

Software licences were £45000 only to find when asking that the cost for them was picked up by the Department of Health and it was a "mistake" to try and charge the PCT as well.

Companies see the NHS as a cash cow and the NHS has stupid rules in place leaving the decisions to people who have no idea or just don't care.

This story is minor compared to how it used to be or how it is in some PCT's. The rub of the story is that ALL that decision making process is now in the hands of GP's, who don't even have IT departments to ask the questions, it is ALL in the hands of third party IT suppliers who will only work on the bottom line and see the NHS as an even bigger cash cow.

Cameraon, how much was the brown envelope carrying exactly?

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