GPs’ ire grows over NHSnet

The NHS Information Authority faces growing anger from doctors over confusion about how many GPs use the health service’s troubled private network and the data standards it will use

The NHS Information Authority faces growing anger among doctors over NHSnet, the health service's troubled private network.

The authority, which holds its AGM tomorrow (Friday), has yet to resolve confusion over how many GPs use the service and the data standards it will use.

Robert Ward, infrastructure policy manager at the NHS Information Policy Unit, said that, although two-thirds of GPs were now connected to the network, this did not mean they were using it.

In 1998, the Government said all computerised practices would be connected to NHSnet by the end of 1999.

"NHSnet is the Millennium Dome of the health service," John Locksley, a GP and committee member of the Torex User Group told Computer Weekly. He said most of the connected GPs were unable to use the system.

Confusion also surrounds the data standards to be used in NHS clinical messaging. The NHS Information Authority wants to use EDI-based Edifact messaging to send pathology reports rather than immediately adopting XML. Next month, XML will be mandated as a standard for data integration across the whole public sector.

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