Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don't mention the ....

... war computer. And in particular, Defra's new toy, SAM. This system was due on stream in July, but three months on is apparently causing havoc. Farmers Weekly reported this snippet last week. (sorry, no online link)

Under the strapline 'Computer Problems Jeopardise TB processing', the FW report describes:
".. how problems with the new [SAM] computer system and the loss of experienced administrative staff, have combined to create severe difficulties in dealing with TB paperwork."
While inexperienced and agency staff struggle to input TB test results, the report highlights a log jam
"..... of over 700 TB test charts for the SW region ( to the end of September) which have to be inputted manually."
The piece describes the morale of staff expected to 'lie to farmers' and the 'extra stress caused to lower grade staff'.
The report also describes problems with TB licensing experienced by one farmer, who having applied to move 20 animals, was given a licence for 23 including three breeding bulls, two of which had been sold. The final license sheet listed just 18 animals. So it would appear that manual overrides could be difficult, if not impossible too.

But with a unique piece of airbrushing, an AHVLA spokesperson gave the following comment to FW about Defra's new all singing, all dancing SAM computer system.
"This will improve the level of service provided to customers"
Not if the goddamn test charts aren't inputted on time, it won't. The main frame computer will generate a bloody shut down notice. Been there. Done that.
" ..... minor issues have been identified, and have now been fixed"
Really? How minor? And that backlog has decreased then? Yes? No?
No. Our information is that it has increased. The purring continues:
"During this time, additional manual checks have been implemented on all TB test charts and associated processes to ensure AHVLA is able to identify and remove reactor animals from farms as quickly as possible."
Additional manual checks? Why? So there is no backlog of reactors or test charts then?
According to many farmers we speak to, yes, there is. Mind, if the source was dealt with there wouldn't be any need for pernicious 60 day testing, abattoir slots, transport, or unskilled agency staff trying to log a million unique eartag numbers into a new computer system. But let that pass.

Sadly, all this sounds a tad familiar. Remember the phrase 'don't mention the war' ? We see a distinct parallel, and having been on the receiving end of a syrupy recorded message (twice) recently when trying to contact AHVLA, have a sneaking suspicion they may be turning the phones off. For hours at a time.
Nah, they wouldn't do that would they? What bit of 'Animal Health' is by passing the radar of Defra's top brass?

Of course they would. But don't forget, the AHVLA lady said it will " improve the level of service..."

What she did not say was when.

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