Headlines: August 20th, 1998

Human life could be lost if millions of pounds isn’t ploughed into tackling the
problems likely to hit computer-operated equipment as a result of the turn of
the century date change.

The Institute of Health Services Management says its members know what to do – but they simply lack the resources.

The IHSM has given full support to a Parliamentary report that warns of
mounting NHS costs and the millennium threat to patient safety.

Mik Horswell, Chair of the IHSM Information Management and Technology Group, said: ‘The report highlights that health services managers are not able to cope with the threat of the millennium bug, millions of pounds are required to deal with it and ultimately human lives could be needlessly lost.Emergency services, lifts, medical equipment could be effected as computer systems may crash if they fail to recognise the date change on the eve of the year 2000.

“Health services managers already know what steps to take. They must make an inventory of everything in their organisation with a micro-processor in it and
then work with suppliers. The cost of making these preparations and technical
changes could exceed 230 million pounds but yet the government still refuses any additional cash.

“Time is rapidly running out. If no more money is made available there will be
serious problems. Chief executives may have to take money out of some other
service which could be patient care.”

The report, Managing the Millennium Threat (66th report) (HC 816), was prepared by the Committee of Public Accounts.