Tuesday, 14 April 2009

BT - and Global Services, again and again

So far in this blog we have shown that BT Global Services (GS) is a major problem that has been tolerated and allowed to cause massive problems for BT for too long. We reported last September, and have written to Mr Livingston, Chairman of BT, that the problems with GS are still buried and will continue to cause massive losses unless something radical is done. To their credit BT has put hard-nosed number crunchers in place to try and halt the slide. But this is only half the problem. GS also needs good professional IT services management in place to manage what’s left of GS, to recover from the bad technical decisions, and to ensure the number crunchers will work with them for a recovery. Paradoxically this insertion of financial may well not work. By this we mean IT Services is alien to BT Group as a whole. It is not understood, it is too different, it evaluates business on a different basis to BT Group, it requires different investment profiles to BT Group, it needs different staff to BT Group, it has different business processes to BT Group, it has signed up business and made promises it cannot keep re NHS IT, and it will bring the company down unless it is brought under control. We submit that while BT Group chases the Chimera of services growth, something that no other Telco has pulled off. It will be diverted from its core business which is to provide communications capability to consumers and business. The core is the one area that all the financial press say BT is world class at and the one area that does make and will continue to make BT’s fortune. Actually there is proof positive of this in that BT has two NHS IT contracts. One for the telcomms backbone, which is a success, and the other for IT systems, which is a costly failure. Need I say more?
In many ways Global Services is like the creature in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi film, Alien. The Alien was brought on board, with the best of intentions by decent people (shades of NHS) yet after chewing its way through a crew member’s chest (shades of GS Management recently fired) it wrought death destruction on the space ship. It was left to one person to deal with it. Therefore; for BT to be cured it needs a Ripley to hunt down and dump the Alien, Global Services. Is there a Ripley in BT and does the new management team have the guts (no pun intended) to do so?

PS. Are the major pension funds with large holdings of BT stock going to ask for the bonuses to be returned that were paid to Global Services Managers who knowingly oversold and under costed too many projects, including NHS IT?

‘Further Ideas For Improving NHS’ now looks at the cleanliness of hospitals.

Over the years there have been many incidents reported of filthy hospitals contributing to the deaths of patients. After 12 years of Labour rule and untold billions of pounds spent on supposedly improving services you would have thought that England would have the cleanest hospitals in the world. Yet several news articles have been reported just this last week of filthy un-cleaned hospitals, with blood on bed partitions, and excrement on the floor. As a result too many patients are being made miserable or worse dying from the infections. This is happening today in London, in Bart’s and The London Hospital Whitechapel. Both are hospitals within sight of the richest office space and bankers on the planet. What an accolade for London!
Why can’t something be done about it? I submit that the problem is not to do with the IT services. Although properly managed business like systems for monitoring cleaning and laundry schedules are sorely needed. What is needed is intense management focus on the basics of running hospitals, and an open culture which includes the staff in helloing make improvements. Many pundits, journalists, and bloggers have called for the return of ward sisters and matrons with the power to make things happen but these calls have all been ignored. Why is this? Try this theory for a possible answer. The Labour ministers of health have been in general decent folks, the current incumbent; Alan Johnson seems to be even more decent and less calculating than his predecessors. Yet even he cannot bring himself to make the changes. The fact is that Labour is held in thrall to old fashioned Socialist thinking which cannot tolerate dissent, argument or new ideas. As a result there are various entrenched leftist-givens which cannot change even to the point of causing ruin for many. Although the left in the UK are not violently Stalinist, Stalin’s way of thinking and intimidating holds at many levels. Stalin managed Russia’s empire for over 30 years with his wishes overshadowing everything by ruling by fear through his Party Apparatchiks, in our case NHS Managers (the ones who get bigger pay rises than nurses), who allowed him to out a reign of terror in which millions died. In addition there were many instances of senior soviet figures disappearing into Stalin’s jails to be tortured for some minor infringement, while some of the family were murdered. When the senior people emerged from jail they went back to work and said not a word to the survivors of their family. The parallel experience in NHS is where senior labour politicians’ family members, generally elderly relatives, go into hospital for some minor treatment only to die from MRSA, and the Labourites say not a word. Of course there is no one as evil as Stalin in the Labour Party but there is a mind-set which says if something is not working then more of the same is needed to make it work. This was the thinking which led to Pol Pot and his faceless minions to push for ever more excessive socialism and eradication of the old order in Cambodia resulting in The Killing Fields. Closer to home; The CJD scare of several years ago led to the complete wasting of the British beef industry. It ruined farmers, led to some suicides, and cost the tax payers billions of pounds. Yet so far just six deaths have been attributed to it. Sad though these deaths were how do they compare with the thousands caused each year by the English NHS’s incompetence and blind management? This is a bigger scandal which Labour should be thoroughly ashamed of.
Come on Mr Johnson, be more than decent. Be a change maker; call in matron and sister, and fire the overpaid managers. Or will you be like one of Stalin's generals who has just been released from the Lubyanka and say nothing?

How Many More Mid Staffs in NHS? The Answer

The answer to last month's question is 10.
What a disgrace. I thought perhaps 4 or 5. But 10. That's awful, and what is more the NHS Central Management do not intend to do anything about it? The excuse is something about 'already under scrutiny' and I don't think!, or 'they are not really that bad'.

If these ten are about the same size as Mid Staffs then the NHS are killing, or causing the early deaths of, 4,400 people each year in these 11 trusts alone, and what is more they are getting away with it.