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NHS lacks systems and money needed to support government IT plans

Jenny Williams

NHS organisations lack the IT systems and funding required to support the government's plan to give greater patients access to personal records, the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned.

As part of its Information Revolution consultation, the government said it would give patients in England greater access and control over personal NHS records, including the ability to access and share data online.

The BMA raised concerns that existing IT systems within the NHS will not support the proposals, warning of funding constraints and patient confidentiality issues. IT is often one of the first areas to be downscaled during times of financial difficulty, said the BMA.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GP and member of the BMA's working party on IT, said: "Improving NHS IT while the NHS is under huge financial pressure will be extremely challenging."

"Delivering the information revolution cost-effectively and equitably will depend on building on the systems that are currently in place and working well, and on involving clinicians."

Nagpaul added there must be patient safeguards to reduce the risks involved in sharing sensitive data.

The government's Information Revolution consultation paper closes 14 January 2011.


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