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Independents' Day

Let's walk before we run on NHS IT programme

Alistair Darling has now quashed the Whitehall aspirations for NHS IT that have been way ahead of the game as the public and doctors have been playing it ('BMA attacks plans to scale back 12bn IT programme').

The central availability of medical records has obvious potential advantages but also inherent resistance by large sections of the public. The dream of what could technically be done is an enormous leap ahead of what is actually being done.

The secure email transmission of hospital letters to GPs does not seem too testing and neither is the use of voice recognition software to allow the instant transmission of investigation reports. We have developed the second service ourselves through commissioning (and this cost less than £100) but secure emailed letters still elude us and would make such a difference throughout the country.

Maybe we should spend thousands not billions in sorting out the simple problems that will really help patients and GPs and leave the space-walking until we have designed a rocket.

From Dr John Havard, Saxmundham, Suffolk

Summary care record

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