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An incoming Conservative government would decentralise health service computing and extend competition between suppliers, according to a plan released at its party conference.

The party's NHS Improvement Plan, released on 29 September 2008 by shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley, says the party will replace "Labour's centrally determined and unresponsive national IT system".

Instead, a Tory government would "extend competition between suppliers, relate standards to user need, and ensure that healthcare providers take real ownership of their IT".

The document says that "a 21st century health service" is unimaginable without IT-supported facilities such as digital imaging, online appointment services and electronic patient records. It also praises public availability on the performance of NHS services.

But it adds: "The key is for technology to serve clinicians, not the other way around; and for patients to have confidence and more control over their data."

The document offers no detail, instead referring to the party's independent review of NHS IT, which it commissioned in August from a British Computer Society team chaired by Dr Glyn Hayes.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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