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<title>UK: FSFE welcomes paper calling for Free Software in the NHS</title>
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<h1>FSFE welcomes paper calling for Free Software in the NHS</h1>
<p>Research programme publishes damning report of public health ICT, and recommends Free Software and Open Standards.</p>
<p>Professor John Chelsom, founder of the Centre for Health Informatics at City University London (CUL), published a paper this week calling for the NHS to stop investing in proprietary software, and eliminate "once and for all, the product-centric culture" that has "held back" British healthcare. Arguing that the NHS is "just emerging from a decade of wasted opportunity", the paper states that the National programme for IT (NPfIT) is a failure.</p>
<p>"It's encouraging for the British public to see City University
London calling for a new way of thinking in British healthcare
which would provide better value and service for society"
said <a href="/about/tuke/tuke.html">Sam
Tuke</a>, British Coordinator of the Free Software Foundation Europe. "Britain's National Health Service has a long history of favouring proprietary software from companies who have drawn tens of billions of pounds in public health contracts" "Past NHS IT strategies have been widely criticised for failings, some of the worst of which are attributable to the use of proprietary protocols, formats, platforms and software. The NHS '<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NHS_Connecting_for_Health">Spine</a>', for example, exceeded its original budget <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1473927/Bill-for-hi-tech-NHS-soars-to-andpound20-billion.html">many times over</a> and suffered <a href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article391090.ece">serious security vulnerabilities</a>. .</p>
<p>CUL's paper arrives on the heels of
complaints from December relating to the Department of Health's
recent IT consultation paper
'<a href="http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Consultations/Liveconsultations/DH_120080">An
Information Revolution</a>', which was published in
October. Directors of two Free Software suppliers challenged the
absence of Free Software in DfH's consultation paper, in a guardian publication entitled '<a href="http://www.smarthealthcare.com/open-source-information-revolution-schwarzat-newbury-01dec10">Avoiding another lost decade for open source</a>'.</p>
<p>"While it has been reassuring to read about the positive stance
of the Cabinet Office towards Free Software in recent months, this
attitude has yet to have a significant impact on British
healthcare. CUL's paper recognises the urgent need for the NHS to
harness the benefits of Free Software, and rightly calls for open development processes, open interfaces, and a rejuvenation of the commercial supplier base, spurred by fair competition that
only Free Software can provide" said Tuke.</p>
<p>The paper concludes "perhaps the time has come for a change in
our perceptions, motivation and in the development of clinical
information systems". FSFE
President <a href="/about/people/gerloff/gerloff.html">Karsten
Gerloff</a> added: "We hope that in future NHS ICT services will
be more aware of the advantages of Free Software and Open
Standards, and that decision makers will take notice of
independent studies such as this one".</p>
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