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Connecting for Health (CfH) has defended the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) against the negative results of a new survey.

The Medix survey, carried out for BBC programme File on 4, concludes that a "significant minority" of doctors were questioning whether the current route is the most effective. It shows that over a third of the doctors responding and 11 per cent of hospital colleagues were in favour of abandoning the programme.

Responding to the survey, published on 30 May 2006, CfH said that issues reported in the programme must be seen in the wider context.

"Up and down the country patients and clinicians are benefiting from new computer systems," it said in a statement.

It pointed out that 28,000 GPs are using the Quality Management Analysis System on a daily basis, 227,239 users are registered for access to the NHS Record spine and over 400,000 electronic bookings have been made on the Choose and Book system since July 2004.

Half of GPs interviewed for the Medix survey said the Choose and Book system was poor or fairly poor. Four out of five GPs said they had access to the computer system but half said they rarely or never used it. Only one in five said it was good or fairly good.

"They (doctors) are also frustrated at the speed of progress or the systems delivered so far," the survey says.

A Medix spokesperson told GC News: "Doctors are in favour of the national programme in principle but are waiting for the electronic records system which will be a huge step forward but that hasn't even started yet. It could take another two years for that to be set up."

The poll was completed by 447 hospital doctors and 340 GPs. 85 per cent of GPs surveyed call for an independent review of the entire system by technical experts to check its basic viability.

CfH has delayed its own survey, commissioned from Mori in January 2006, asking doctors, nurses and NHS managers in 28 strategic health authorities, their views on the NPfIT progress.

The £6.3bn IT upgrade aims to link up 30,000 GPs to nearly 300 hospitals in a radical overhaul of the NHS IT network.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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