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RCGP calls for a more ‘robust’ NHS IT system

by Anviksha Patel
30 April 2019

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A ‘robust and joined-up IT system’ needs to be prioritised before technological innovation, the RCGP has said.
In its new tech manifesto, the RCGP has called on the health secretary Matt Hancock to focus on installing secure IT systems for all GP practices, with secure broadband and IT maintenance support.
The manifesto outlines the need for all practices to have access to a single shared electronic patient record throughout the NHS.
According to the manifesto, Finland and Estonia already have a shared patient record system.
It is estimated that almost 80% of practices will soon be using outdated systems that cannot cope with the future patient care.
At the beginning of this year, Mr Hancock announced that GP IT systems would be overhauled.
Earlier in February, a NAO report concluded that GP registration databases which select patients for screening are ‘not fit for purpose’.
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said GPs ‘need the basics to work first’ before embracing the latest tech.
‘GPs have always embraced new technology. General practice was the first NHS sector to have electronic prescribing and electronic patient records so we know how beneficial new technology can be and we recognise its huge potential to help our patients.
She added: ‘GPs want the latest, cutting-edge tech at our disposal, but we need the basics to work first.
‘That means everything from making sure that our computers don’t crash while issuing a prescription, to making sure our systems talk to those in all hospitals so that we can improve the care and experience that our patients receive throughout the NHS.
‘We want the NHS to be a world leader in technology, and we are ready for a new wave of exciting opportunities which have the potential to revolutionise patient care, but a lot of work is needed before that can happen, and we need to ensure sure that these opportunities are embraced safely and sustainably with GPs at the centre of changes.’
Last year, the health secretary banned practices from buying new fax machines from January and will not be allowed to use them after March 2020.
Meanwhile, a leaked memo showed many online GP providers do not have the technology to connect to the NHS app.
This story was first published on our sister publication Pulse.