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Independents' Day

IT campaign in Commons debate

By Steve Nowottny

Pulse's IT campaign found itself at the heart of a House of Commons debate as MPs called for a 'full and independent review' of the NHS IT programme.

The Government came in for fierce criticism over its rollout of electronic patient care records, the Choose and Book referral system and the MTAS doctors recruitment debacle.

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat health spokesman, told the House there were major concerns over the confidentiality of the electronic care record, quoting from Pulse's story last week of a split among GPs in Bolton, where the scheme is being piloted.

Attacking the implied consent model being used by Connecting for Health for the rollout, he said: 'I am seriously concerned because we are dealing with elderly and vulnerable people, as well as people with learning difficulties. The more widely such information is shared, the greater the risks.'

Health minister Caroline Flint said an independent inquiry would 'stall' the national programme, adding that less than 0.2% of patients in the pilot area had so far chosen to opt out of the care record.

But Stephen O'Brien, Conservative shadow health minister, accused the Government of 'amateur cackhandedness' and 'woeful shortcomings' in its NHS IT programme.

The call for an independent inquiry was defeated by 282 votes to 226 but the Conservatives are threatening to carry out their own inquiry.

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