NHS take an unhealthy stance on open-source

Aside from being confused about the 180 degree turn by the British NHS to sign-up Microsoft for at least the next 3 years, I have to really wonder who at the NHS wrote the following lobotomised statement:

Open Source code typically comes without ownership, support or maintenance. NHS infrastructure and information systems are critical to the delivery of quality care and therefore guarantees on the reliability and future maintenance of systems are required.

This statement is a complete red herring because any large company offering a product based on open-source stands over it to the same degree as one composed of closed source.

The funny thing is that this new page is in radical opposition to the better informed NHS draft open-source policy statement that was surgically removed but still accessible for a while longer via the webarchive.

Not much to compare between these two versions of this page; no wonder the NHS decided to remove the paper.

If you aren't chuckling wryly at this yet, you will be if you read an article on e-health insider which states the case for open-source in the Health industry as follows:

The Office of Government Commerce has made recommendations that public procurement of software should consider open source solutions, citing, amongst other case studies, the experience of a Dublin-based hospital that made significant savings in transferring all its software to open source. The report says that public sector bodies should "examine carefully the technical and business case for implementation for Open Source software and the role which OSS could play in current and future projects" as well as "review their current infrastructure and applications... well in advance of any planned procurement or renewal... and consider what steps may be necessary to prevent future 'lock in'".

So it looks like it's at least 3 years before the NHS can benefit from open-source solutions (the outside limit of 9 years certainly sounds like 'lock-in'), but that doesn't affect the business case for open-source in other government departments in the UK, or indeed elsewhere in Europe where open-source is viewed very favourably or even mandated.

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