Doctors in the dark about NHS IT strategy

Doctors still in the dark about NHS IT strategy

Only one in three doctors believe the government's £5bn investment in NHS IT will deliver a significant improvement in patient care, a Computer Weekly-commissioned survey has found.

Only 27% of more than 1,000 doctors and consultants surveyed by medical research specialist Medix UK believe the ambitious modernisation of health service systems will lead to a "significant improvement" in clinical care.

The survey also cast doubt on government claims that the centrally-managed national programme for NHS IT will be conducted in partnership with front-line users of the systems - doctors, consultants and nurses.

Only 7% of those surveyed said they possessed adequate information on the plan, and 32% had not even heard about it prior to taking part in the study. Seventy five per cent of those questioned said they had not been consulted about the new IT scheme.

Rino Coladangelo, chief executive of Medix UK, said, "The striking findings of this survey are that while doctors are passionate about patient care and the impact of IT on this, very few of them know anything about what is the biggest IT undertaking ever in the NHS and possibly the world."

However, the doctors and consultants who were aware of the government's NHS IT strategy viewed it as a key long-term initiative.

Almost 75% of respondents rated the IT strategy as either "important" or "very important" to the NHS, underlining the pressing need for an improved technology infrastructure.

Coladangelo said, "By improving communication on the project and involving clinicians one could gain significant support in implementing an extremely difficult task."

However, there appears to be a degree of uncertainty about whether the NHS should outsource large parts of its IT plan to big suppliers. Forty one per cent of the doctors surveyed were unsure whether this was the right approach and more than 25% were opposed to it.

Doctors were also split on whether expenditure should be controlled centrally by the Department of Health. Just over 33% were in favour of central control, 22% want regional direction and 33% favour local control.

Computer Weekly, Thursday 6th February 2003

by James Rogers
iX Group
Dr Rino Coladangelo
Chief Executive

Lower Gatley
Steeple Morden

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