Electronic patient records on my system can be confusing - what will national system be like?

This is one of a series on this blog of some of more memorable comments made by witnesses and MPs at an inquiry into the National Programme for IT [NPfIT] by the Health Committee of the House of Commons.

The witnesses at the first hearing on 26 April 2007 were:

– Richard Granger, Director General of IT for the NHS and head of the NPfIT

– Harry Cayton, National Director for Patients and the Public, Department of Health

– Dr Gillian Braunold, a GP and National Clinical Lead for GPs, Connecting for Health.

Martyn Thomas, visiting Professor of Software Engineering, University of Oxford,

Dr Paul Cundy, Chair, General Practitioners’ Joint IT Committee

Andrew Hawker, NHS Patient

A list of who is on the committee is at the end of this article.

At the Health Committee hearing Dr Paul Cundy said: “I know from my system in my practice is that there are times when I, quite frankly, do not have an immediate clue as to what is going on with a patient, and we have 20 years’ worth of patient electronic records.

“Electronic records can be just as confusing as any paper record can be and in my practice I run it very rigidly: my partners are not allowed to do certain things. Despite that, we can still sometimes find it very difficult to not know what we are doing with a particular patient.

“It can take quite a long time to unravel it. If that is my record on my system that we managed, if I am having to navigate information on a system that is run by someone else, contributed to by lots of different other people, I have no idea whether that will be easy or not. I suspect it might be potentially difficult, but the answer is I do not know whether it is going to make life better or not.”

Link: Evidence to the Health Committee which includes many arguments for against national electronic patient records


Membership of the House of Commons’ Health Committee

Kevin Barron, Labour, Rother Valley – Chairman

Mr David Amess, Conservative, Southend West

Charlotte Atkins, Labour, Staffordshire Moorlands

Mr Ronnie Campbell, Labour, Blyth Valley

Jim Dowd, Labour, Lewisham West

Sandra Gidley, Liberal Democrat, Romsey

Stewart Jackson, Conservative, Peterborough

Dr Doug Naysmith, Labour/Co-operative, Bristol North West

Mike Penning, Conservative, Hemel Hempstead

Dr Howard Stoate, Labour, Dartford

Dr Richard Taylor, Independent, Wyre Forest