Letter: Vital questions for 999 service

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The Independent Online
Sir: In all I have read about the failure of the new London ambulance computer system, there are two related issues that have neither been raised nor properly answered. These concern the contract for the supply and installation of the system.

First, were those managers of the ambulance service charged with specifying the system and evaluating the tenders in any way experienced in this type of exercise within the field of communications? If not, why were they allowed these responsibilities?

The second concern is about the system itself. This is not just one bit of hardware, but a lot of electronic components interfacing with each other to provide an overall outcome. These are governed by software programs. The question is, how much of the system comprises new, untried hardware or software, and what is the track record of those components that have been tried in other applications?

Only when there are answers to these questions can any determination of the degree of risk which the managers were taking, on our behalf, be made.

Yours faithfully,


London, NW8

29 October