' The DoH is officially saying nothing, but my chums tell me they have no qualms about the quality of the iSoft product'
Reading the healthcare newspaper clippings for the weeks I have been on holiday is almost comically depressing. All those wasted NHS billions, according to one think tank report. All that lurking racism, according to another. All that violence on the wards, all those patients carelessly killed by staff. Did nothing go right? Should we all jump off a cliff?
Or would that ('NHS fails to predict mass suicide') be someone else's fault too?
In fact, for Department of Health information strategists, the kind of people paid to anticipate bad news and get on its case pronto, it has been the summer that did not bark. The Sunday Telegraph's 'Blunders by NHS staff kills thousands of patients a year' (actually 2,159) was a Bank Holiday rejig of known figures.
These are bad enough, but not when placed in the context of 1 million patients treated every day - or of new forms of audit which expose the fact that six of them perish daily as a result.
But where was the feared repeat of the 'doctors on the dole' campaign by the British Medical Association? Could it mean that most new doctors (not all of them incoming Poles) got jobs?
And where was the summer of discontent promised over job cuts by the NHS unions? I realise even campaigners need their holiday (Patricia Hewitt went to Greece), but it could have been worse.
There is still time to make amends before the TUC and Labour conferences, although I suspect Tony Blair's fate will dominate both. The fact that the NHS's first quarter financial results for 2006-07 were better (not much publicity for that news), albeit still in the red, may encourage Tony Blair to hang on, hoping to prove his health strategy vindicated.
But that may be offset by trouble on the NHS IT front, another big chunk of his 'legacy'.
Key supplier iSoft's problems got a lot of media attention, led by my own newspaper, The Guardian.
It now transpires that iSoft's Lorenzo software system, central to its role in the£6.2bn Connecting for Health strategy, is not yet as glitch-free and ready to roll as we had all been told. Who says so? Among others Accenture, the global management consultancy for which Ms Hewitt used to work and another partner in the huge NHS IT plan.
This seems inevitably to have fed into iSoft's projected profitability as revenue which was expected on the basis of delivery of the system by a given date failed to materialise. 'If delivery falls back then revenue recognition falls back too,' explains a contact in the same field, grappling with similar challenges.
So there are two interrelated problems here, technical and financial, involving a management whose top people seem to have made a lot of money selling shares in the boom days before the Financial Services Authority and Parliament's public accounts committee - both watchdogs with teeth - started taking a keen interest.
The DoH is officially saying nothing, but my chums tell me they have no qualms about the quality of the iSoft product, which is being developed for the firm by the high-tech whizzes of India's fast-expanding IT industry and will cover 60 per cent of GP practices, hospitals and other trusts in England.
As for the recent plummeting share price, that is a financial management problem for iSoft, not the NHS.
Under Richard Granger's IT leadership the DoH has been careful not to make unwise or premature upfront payments to suppliers (another supplier, BT, was complaining about a lack of such payments last weekend) and to ensure systems can be managed by others firms if one supplier drops out.
My IT contacts remain sceptical. 'Programmers hate working with other people's stuff unless it's very good. If it's messy you want to start again,' says one. Says another: 'Hospital software is like rocket launch software. It's just got to be correct.'
Michael White is assistant editor (politics) of The Guardian.