– Most clinicians and IT managers don’t want the National NHS IT Programme abolished – they want it reformed
– Large majority against letting private firms – such as Google or Microsoft – manage NHS patient records
– Strong support for DH to continue development (currently suspended) of HealthSpace, its own personal health record system
Eight out of 10 UK doctors and NHS IT experts oppose scrapping the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in the NHS.
The survey of views on NHS IT is published today by Doctors.net.uk and E-Health Insider after the publication of an independent review of health and social care IT by the Conservative Party, which is holding its party conference this week in Manchester.
The Conservatives are committed to changing the programme and renegotiating its multi-billion pound central contracts.
A sizeable minority did want to see the NPfIT scrapped, citing concerns about its ‘massive costs’ and limited benefits to patient care.
Doctors and IT experts from NHS organisations and the independent sector also disagreed fundamentally (86% and 76% respectively) with a Tory proposal to let private companies hold patient records. Privacy was one of the greatest concerns, especially among doctors (60%), while fragmentation of records was one of the chief concerns of IT managers (29%).
There was strong support (85%) for the NHS to continue to develop its own personal health record platform, HealthSpace.
Asked about the clinical benefits the national programme is meant to be delivering, hospital doctors regarded online medical records and digital systems for imaging and laboratory tests as being the most important for improvements in care.
Healthcare ICT professionals were keen to see the development of e-prescribing systems.
One NHS IT manager said:
“It would be a mistake to abandon the work done so far. An age-old problem with the NHS is that things get reinvented all the time, as if they had never been thought of before. And expecting total reform in the lifetime of a Parliament is unrealistic.”
The research was carried out last month among readers of E-Health Insider and members of Doctors.net.uk. There were 1,566 respondents, comprising clinicians, NHS IT and general managers and systems providers.
NHS Connecting for Health’s response to Conservative Party review of NHS IT – CfH website
Tory-commissioned NHS review – SmartHealthcare.Com