If you've delivered on waiting lists, brought your organisation back into financial balance and generally not managed to mislay too many patients on the way, you may feel that in this new golden era of NHS funding your job is secure.

But what about your pay cheque? Did you know that the contract to maintain the Standard Payroll System used across much of the health service expires at the end of the year?

Some 230 NHS organisations rely on this 25-year-old software, and with new pay structures, the European working-time directive and perhaps even monetary union ahead, the time has come for it to be sent on its way into a long and happy cyber retirement.

In its place, the boys and girls at the Department of Health shared services project promise an all-singing, all-dancing unified payroll system for the whole NHS. In place of uncommunicative human resource and finance systems, there will be one seamless system able to cut down on bureaucracy, tie in to electronic recruitment and rostering initiatives, and even link to the NHS pension scheme.

And what a cornucopia of delights it will offer in practice. NHS employees will have personal employment records that can move between organisations as they change jobs. People will be able to see their own records. Workflow will speed up. Data errors will fall. Fragmentation and duplication will disappear overnight. There will be an end to wars and world peace will at last be possible.

Actually, the last of those isn't in the specification - but if you think it should be, there is still time. The DoH is shortly to tell its suppliers precisely what new functions it wants and how they should be delivered.

And it wants to hear from people within the NHS what they want before it does so.

Go on, it's not every day they ask.

This and other sites of interest can be reached via HSJ's website at www.hsj.co.uk