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Tories told: Don't scrap NHS IT

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The Tory Party, meeting for its annual conference in Manchester this week, has rejected claims that it is set to cancel most of the National Programme for IT - the massive technology project aimed at improving the NHS.

A survey by doctors.net.uk found a third of doctors and IT professionals believe the project should be scrapped because of massive costs and limited impact on patient care.

But eight out of ten believe it should be reformed, with more help from health professionals, less political interference and less enforced centralisation - one criticism of the original project was that it forced central templates onto local health services regardless of what technology they were using previously. The situation has worsened as more and more suppliers drop out of bidding.

The Tories, in their wilder moments to be fair, sort of suggested that patient care records could be handed to the likes of Google or Microsoft who would look after them for free. Doctors.net's survey found 86 per cent of IT pros and 76 per cent of doctors could see the problem with this plan.

Today the Tories moved swiftly to squash this speculation.

Shadow Health Minister Stephen O’Brien said: “It’s good to hear the views of doctors on these important issues.

“We have been clear that we want to give patients greater control over their health records, but the reason we’re running a consultation is that we want to hear the views of all parties on the best way to do that.”

About 85 per cent of respondents believed patient care records should be continue to be developed by the NHS.

The National Programme for IT is an enormous project and includes promises of electronic patient records, digital X-ray services, improved email services and choose and book systems. Patient records are now expected to be widely available by 2015, five years later than planned. It is believed to be the world's most expensive civil tech project costing in the region of £12.7bn.

The research came from 1,566 respondents, members of doctors.net.uk and readers of E-Health Insider. ®

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