9 June 2005
Dispute over plan for new IT at hospital
Eithne Donnellan, Health Correspondent
An internal row has erupted at Dublin's Beaumont Hospital over plans to
introduce a new computer system which the IT manager at the hospital
estimates could cost €2 million and which he believes is unnecessary.
Internal hospital correspondence, seen by The Irish Times, indicates IT
project manager Tony Kenny has "serious concerns" at the plan. He claims
"nothing resembling a clear business case to justify" the plan has been
The hospital moved to an "open-source" Linux IT system approximately four
years ago. The system was free of charge. Now the plan is to move to a
Microsoft system which Mr Kenny claims, in the correspondence, could cost €2
In a letter to the hospital's chief executive, Liam Duffy, on June 1st, he
said his deepest concern was that no or inadequate funding had been provided
for the proposal. If it went ahead, no funds would then be available for
"core requirements" such as new desktops or improvements in the current
"One of the most pressing issues is the absence of any electronic support for
medication management. This represents an enormous risk management for us,"
Mr Duffy, in a letter to Mr Kenny setting out the need for the change on May
31st last, said the decision had been taken following representations from
staff at all levels in the hospital which indicated the current software was
not meeting requirements, and was "giving rise to widespread discontent".
The CEO said he was also concerned that Beaumont was the only organisation in
the healthcare environment that had adopted the open-source strategy. The
budgetary implications of the move would be examined by the hospital's IT
strategy group, he added.
In relation to Beaumont being the only hospital with the open-source system,
Mr Kenny responded: "It would be unusual to find a criteria of being the same
as everyone else a desirable characteristic for those aspiring to achieve
Local Sinn Féin councillor Larry O'Toole said he was worried that management
was apparently taking such a decision when it was advised of other IT
priorities to improve patient care.
Last night, a spokesman for Beaumont Hospital said it was surprised and
disappointed that "internal and commercially sensitive" documents had been
made public. He said word-processing, e-mail and related software were core
to the hospital, and any problems could seriously disrupt communications
between departments and with other hospitals.
He added the suggestion it would cost €2 million to replace the system was
"not even a guesstimate" and took no account of the substantial discounts
likely to be available to Beaumont.
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