NHS IT in crisis as doctors demand halt to electronic records

The British Medical Association has called for an immediate halt to the multibillion pound rollout of electronic records for NHS patients.

The doctors’ association lambasted the state of the £13 billion NHS IT rollout and warned that the “break-neck speed” deployment of the records risked “further” eroding doctors’ and patients’ belief in electronic records. The entire programme was facing "failure", it said, unless the rollout was properly evaluated.

It also said it no longer wanted to be associated with the scheme on a promotional publicity video used by the NHS to demonstrate staff support.

In an angry letter to health minister Mike O’ Brien, the BMA expressed “serious concern” that the rollout was being accelerated across the country, in spite of government-commissioned research that found seven in 10 patients did not understand an NHS information pack about the scheme. The rollout is also being accelerated ahead of the publishing of another official study on the records.

Simultaneously, the BMA has written to doctors asking them to boycott the record, and to refuse to upload data to the national database.

The association also criticised the quality of information on the records, after GP data accreditation was ended in 2009 with many surgeries that had not been approved in time.

Patients have only 12 weeks to opt out if they do not want their records on the national data ‘spine’. Concerns have been raised by a number of doctors and patients over the security of the record, who will access it, and the format of the data.

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