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Shadow health secretary Stephen O'Brien MP has commissioned an independent report from the British Computer Society on what English health service IT should look like in five years' time.

Beyond that patient-based records will form the basis of NHS informatics, no assumptions are being made, according the review's chair Dr Glyn Hayes, past chair of the BCS Health Informatics Forum.

"We are quite deliberately at this stage not talking about specific areas, we're talking about what people feel needs to be resolved," he told GC News. "Everyone is entitled to say whatever they like."

O'Brien's office is providing administrative support, but the report will be independent. "It will be fed into [the Conservatives'] own policy reviews, without any commitment to use it," said Hayes. "The BCS, like myself, is apolitical. We're happy to do it as it will help the whole community."

The review has invited groups including the royal colleges, health organisations, IT vendors, NHS Connecting for Health and academics to contribute formal written evidence to evidence@healthitpolicyreview.info, by 30 September.

It is asking members of the public to add to a wiki, although Hayes said individuals can email documents if they wish, adding that he hopes to draw on the experiences of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The review will take oral evidence later this year, which may be held in private, and the report is scheduled to be published in March 2009.

Hayes said that, with the Department of Health having published a recent review of informatics and the Conservative party forming its policies before the next election, it is a good time to be carrying out such a review.

He added that the aim is to look forward, rather than criticise the current situation. "If there are lessons we can learn, fine, but we're not there to do a dissection of what is there at the moment. We are where we are - how do we move forward?"

Hayes will be joined by independent consultant Gail Beer, pharmacist Ian Shepherd and professors Iain Carpenter and John Williams of the Royal College of Physicians in running the review.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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