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NHS IT upgrade to lose further £700m from budget

10 September 2010

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Plans to upgrade the NHS IT systems have been hit by government budget cuts and will be scaled back to save £700m.

Although some parts of the National Programme for IT for England are in place already, in future hospitals will decide which services they need rather than having to take on a completely new system.

Technology that is currently up and running includes a booking system Choose and Book, which allows GPs to arrange hospital appointments for patients in their surgery, and a picture archive allowing X-rays and other images to be sent between hospitals and viewed online.

An electronic prescription service, which sends orders directly from GP practice to pharmacy, has also been rolled out.

The previous Labour government announced £600m savings, so overall the programme cost will fall from £12.7bn to £11.4bn.

One aspect of the system facing cuts in the Summary Care Record, which under review with a report due in late September. It would allow patients to be treated anywhere in the country by putting everyone’s medical record online.

However, critics said patients might not understand what type of details would be included in the record, and voiced concerns over possible security breaches.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

NHS Connecting for Health

Do you think this is the right move? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“Yes. Regardless of how secure the system to allow individual access to the Summary Care Record is, the fact that hundreds of thousands of people can access a clinical records system cannot be secure. There is a free alternative to those using EMIS (about 65% of GP practices) that offers better access but is controlled by the patient in a similar way to internet banking. Spending a fraction of the billions involved on developing the same facility for other GP systems and there would be the same result with better security” – Name and address withheld