Less than 1% of NHS Trust hospitals have budgeted for the Year 2000 problem, according to a survey published last week.
The survey, conducted by Dresdner Kleinwort Benson Finance, blamed a shortage of funds for the lack of preparation in tackling the Year 2000 problem. But the necessity to deal with it means NHS Trusts will have to delay or abandon other IT projects altogether.
Said Adrian Stewart, director of Dresdner Kleinwort Benson Finance: "Anything from patient recall systems to payroll can be affected (by the Year 2000 problem). With budgets already under pressure, IT projects for improving care or increasing efficiency will have to be shelved."
According to Stewart, the problem is further compounded by the fact that NHS Trusts are not in a position to offer experienced programmers who could fix the problem the same salaries other organisations can afford.
Stewart estimated that NHS Trusts will need to spend up to u200 million to keep their systems operable, a figure they may not be aware of."Some Trusts are expecting IT suppliers or the government to foot the bill for Year 2000 compliance," added Stewart.
The survey was based on interviews with 266 IT managers and directors in NHS Trusts. It discovered that for some NHS Trusts who recall patients two years in advance, the Year 2000 problem will actually occur next year.
Stewart also warned that the problem is not restricted to software. "There are further problems with chips embedded in all sorts of equipment including scanners, monitors, even lifts and alarms," he said.
Every week we hear of organisations that are not taking the millennium bug seriously, not allocating sufficient resources or avoiding the issue completely. There are now just 934 days left to D-day, and counting.
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