Feeds

Doctors attack NHS IT system

Patient confidentiality at risk, say concerned sawbones

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Doctors have spoken out against the controversial £12.4bn NHS IT system that is over budget and behind schedule, claiming that patient confidentiality is being put at risk by the system.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, a series of doctors have said that it is unwise to put the medical records of the entire population on one computer. The news comes just days after an investigation by the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) painted a picture of a project in crisis.

Two key witnesses told the PAC that the system's problems were caused by the fact that doctors were not properly consulted while it was being designed. Now doctors are saying that the system puts patient data at risk. "Workers in hospitals or general practice surgeries might seek inappropriate access to medical records because of curiosity or malice, commercial gain or simple error," said Michael Foley in the article, according to the Press Association. Foley is a consultant anaesthetist at Middlesbrough's James Cook University Hospital.

"If screens are left on in open areas or passwords compromised, tracing of access for disciplinary purposes would be difficult," said Cook. The IT system is designed to hold 50 million patient records when finished, and it is that concentration in one central computer that has caused the latest controversy.

A central element of the programme, the 'choose and book' appointment management service, has fallen severely behind planned usage levels. Designed to manage 100 per cent of appointment bookings by the end of 2005, the system is being used to manage just 20 per cent of appointments, according to Silicon.com.

Concerns about security have been heightened since a recent report found that mobile devices can prove an easy way into NHS IT systems.

Meanwhile a report has discovered that NHS IT system security is being compromised because of poor or non-existent mobile device security. Carried out by Pointsec Mobile Technologies and the British Journal of Healthcare Computing and Information Management, the survey has found that two thirds of mobile data storage devices have inadequate security.

"There is much documented evidence of patients who are worried about the safe-keeping of electronic medical records," said Martin Allen, managing director of Pointsec, when the survey was released late last month. "This survey shows that the medical sector themselves are worried about information being held on mobile devices which are not being secured by their NHS Trust. It will only be a matter of time before these weaknesses are exploited."

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?