15 Jun 2005
BEAUMONT Hospital is at the centre of a major internal dispute involving its
chief executive and IT manager over plans to change computer software.The
software currently used at the hospital is known as ‘Open Source’ and can be
acquired for free.
However, Beaumont’s chief executive, Liam Duffy, wants to change over to
software which would cost the hospital money. The hospital’s IT manager, Tony
Kenny, is against the move.
The Northside People has seen correspondence between Mr Duffy and Mr Kenny,
concerning the issue.
In a letter to Mr Kenny (dated May 31, 2005), Mr Duffy said that the decision
was taken following representations from staff at all levels of the hospital.
He claimed that the staff had indicated that the current desktop software is
not meeting the requirements of the hospital and is giving rise to widespread
“I am also concerned that we are the only organisation in the healthcare
environment that has adopted the Open Source strategy,” said Mr Duffy.
“However, if at a later stage the Health Service Executive (HSE) adopt an Open
Source strategy, I will be more than happy to reconsider this issue.”
Mr Duffy acknowledged Mr Kenny’s concerns about the impact of his decision on
the IT budget.
“The budgetary implications will be evaluated by the IT Steering Group, once
established, and this group will determine the priorities for IT budget
spending,” he said.
Mr Kenny responded to Mr Duffy’s letter on June 1 and said he was ready to
implement the instructions but had “serious concerns about this development”.
Mr Kenny claimed that the decision had the potential to commit the hospital to
an investment of around e2 million and that nothing resembling a clear
business case to justify the outlay had been produced.
Mr Kenny acknowledged that Beaumont Hospital was the only organisation in the
health service that had adopted an ‘Open Source’ strategy to date.
“Yet this has in no way disadvantaged us in fully participating in the
interchange of data with other agencies,” he explained.
Mr Kenny added there have been “trivial issues” with the submission of some
correspondence that’s proved incompatible with the hospital’s system but
claimed that this could be easily rectified.
When contacted, a spokesman for Beaumont Hospital said that the executive team
at the hospital is deeply disappointed that commercially sensitive internal
documents had been made public at this time.
“The team has been conscious at all times of the need to achieve best possible
value for money in the interests of taxpayers and patients,” he said.
The spokesman said the decision to revert to more widely used desktop software
reflects “continuing dissatisfaction” of users at the hospital.
“No decision has been taken with regard to the broader issue of ‘Open Source’
for a variety of other computer applications,” he said.
The spokesman added that the cost of switching back to some main software
applications still has to be established but that the hospital believes that
it would be substantially less than e2 million.
Cllr Larry O’Toole (SF), who brought the matter to the attention of The
Northside People, said he was concerned that management at Beaumont Hospital
appeared to be making a decision against the strong advice of the IT project
manager (Mr Kenny).
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