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Staff e-records a model for NHS

James Rogers
The Health Service's £325m pay and personnel system could serve as a model for developing other key NHS IT projects, such as electronic patient records (EPR).

Philip Hewitson, chief executive of the NHS National Shared Services Initiative, said, "There are some major data management and scalability issues that will be very applicable to EPRs."

Live testing of the pay and personnel system- the electronic staff record (ESR) - began at University Hospital, Birmingham, last week.

The project, which is designed to replace 30 different systems for the 1.2 million NHS staff in England and Wales, is being developed by a consortium of suppliers, and is due to be rolled out across the NHS by mid 2005.

Hewitson highlighted the importance of extending the staff record's data protection features to patient records. "The ESR has all the data protection implications that the EPR will have - we are putting processes in place that safeguard the individual and the organisation which are both electronic and management-based."

Launching the test in Birmingham last week, health minister Lord Hunt predicted that the project will save the NHS £400m over 10 years.

The electronic staff record is seen as critical in helping to modernise the NHS. The system will allow the transfer of staff details from one NHS employer to another, cutting red tape, reducing bureaucracy and saving time.

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