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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Electronic records warning

¶A new Government taskforce set up to speed implementation of shared electronic patient records will only slow down the process, GPs have warned.

Health minister Lord Warner announced the taskforce at last week's LMCs conference, saying there had been too many delays in developing the National Care Record.

The taskforce, chaired by a lay person and including a cross-section of clinicians, would develop a detailed implementation plan by the end of 2006 ahead of pilots of the record in 2007, he added.

But GPs said the move was a political decision prompted by a National Audit Office report criticising Connecting for Health for failing to consult clinicians.

Dr Glyn Hayes, president of the British Computer Society's primary health care specialist group, said: 'This might have been appropriate 18 months ago. Now it would be better to get things moving.'

Dr Paul Cundy, chair of the GPC's IT subcommittee, said doctors' profound ethical concerns about shared records were holding up the project.

He said: 'The medical profession has said very clearly what it feels. Lord Warner just doesn't like the answer.'

The National Audit Office called for greater scrutiny of Connecting for Health's work and its cost-effectiveness, but was less critical than expected.

Dr Cundy said the report was cleverly worded to reserve judgment. 'I think this is a hard-hitting report in a Little Red Riding Hood cape.'

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