Visiting Speaker: Harold Thimbleby on digital healthcare

Published: 6 June 2024

Professor Harold Thimbleby is a Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science, Swansea University.

TITLE: The connections between the Grenfell fire, the Post Office Horizon scandal, and NHS digital healthcare, and what to do about it
SPEAKER: Harold Thimbleby
DATE: 6th June 2024
TIME: 15:00-16:00

The shocking ITV drama Mr Bates vs The Post Office brought the Post Office Horizon scandal to everyone's attention. Sadly the Horizon scandal parallels digital scandals in the NHS. Harold Thimbleby's book Fix IT: See and Solve the Problems of Digital Healthcare (OUP, 2021) - which briefly covers the Horizon scandal as well - won the BMA general medicine award for best book of the year. The judges said "everyone should read this." But it's a long textbook, so Harold and his wife Prue collaborated on writing a 30 page magazine-style booklet Patient Safety — Stories for a Digital World (download at with the same key stories plus helpful advice on what to do after an incident. As well as helping recognise digital problems (rather than blaming staff) the booklet also has many suggestions for improving the quality and safety of digital healthcare. This seminar will share some stories, but leave you with ideas about possible strategic improvements to digital healthcare.
Harold Thimbleby is Emeritus Professor of Computer Science, Swansea University, where he was See Change Fellow in Digital Health (he is also Emeritus Professor of Geometry, Gresham College). Most of his career Harold worked in user interface design, until (almost 25 years ago) when one of his students was run over and hospitalised. He then discovered how unusable digital healthcare was, and has since been working trying to improve digital healthcare and the bizarre laws around computer evidence (which often end up blaming healthcare professionals instead). Subsequently he was elected Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the Edinburgh Royal College of Physicians; he is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales. He is a well-known speaker — he has given nearly 300 conference keynotes around the world.

First published: 6 June 2024