UK E-HEALTH Story Should Be Compulsory Reading

ADF UK E-HEALTH Story Should Be Compulsory Reading – 4 February 2010

“Escalating costs, delays and criticisms of the UK NHS IT system should be mandatory reading for all in charge of Australia’s e-health programmes”, Dr Aniello Iannuzzi, rural GP and spokesman for the Australian Doctors’ Fund said in Coonabarabran today.

While estimates vary, there are claims that the UK IT programme, running since 2002, has an estimated budgetof more than £12.7 billion (A$23 billion). There are also reports of time delays, some claiming the programme is 5 years behind(1).

Dr Grant Ingrams, co-chair of the BMA and RCGP IT Committee made the following comments on 28 December 2009, “I predict that during 2010 the government will have a ‘Road to Damascus’ experience and finally recognise that a detailed health care record across a whole health economy will not improve healthcare. Sharing of data electronically can never replace continuity of care with a doctor or service; nor direct communication between two clinicians regarding a patient’s care”(2).

There is a continued outcry for British hospitals and doctors to have a greater say in the choice of IT solutions. The UK Shadow Health Minister, Andrew Lansley has predicted “it is clear that 2010 will be a year in which we see a fundamental re-evaluation of the implementation of the NHS IT programme.”(3)

His comments follow media reports in December 2009 that the UK Chancellor, Alistair Darling was considering postponing the UK IT health programme which he described as “quite expensive” and “not essential for the front line”.

“The lessons are clear”, Dr Iannuzzi said. “Top down systems and attempts to endorse standardisation on a dynamic, complex and often contradictory set of circumstances that occur in healthcare delivery do not work and can result in expensive failures”.

“Australia should learn from the UK experience and provide our health professionals with fast, efficient and functional technologies. Clinicians at the coalface need to be at the forefront of any development in e- health”.

“Utilising existing technologies that support clinicians and hospitals in what they want and need to do for patients, as well as developing bottom-up solutions is the future. We do not want the healthcare dollar wasted on futile projects and lost causes that do not help patients”, Dr Iannuzzi said.

For more information, contact: (02) 9567 5595 (BH) Dr Aniello Iannuzzi Mr Stephen Milgate (02) 9567 5595 (BH), 0425 283 411

1 Andy Beckett, The Guardian, System failure? 9/7/09

2 The Year to Come 2010, ehealthinsider primary care, 28 December 2009, http://www.ehiprimarycare.com/comment_and_analysis/551/the_year_to_come:_2010#MOB

3 ibid

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