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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Life or death shambles

Connecting for Health gained its grand new name as part of a PR makeover, designed to add some shine to an image tarnished by controversy and calamity.

Like many major IT projects, it has suffered from poor management, a lack of consultation and deadlines that recede ever further into the distance. But at least up until this week no one had accused Connecting for Health of putting lives at risk.

All that has now changed, as it emerged that in some areas new IT systems have had a calamitous effect on the childhood immunisation programme. Even the Health Protection Agency has been moved to talk of a potential 'major public health threat' as uptake of infant vaccines plunged. The story is a familiar one, with the Government's enthusiastic policy wonks thrusting out new IT systems before anyone has properly tested them. But this being health care, not accountancy or stocktaking, the consequences of such a fiasco can be deadly.

It is time Connecting for Health began to live up to its name.

Skill mix mystery

Substituting GPs for nurses does not save money, increase productivity or improve patient care, leading academics have stated this week.

No alarms and no surprises there, you'd think. After all, legal secretaries can't replace lawyers. Classroom assistants can't replace teachers. So why has there ever been an assumption that nurses can replace GPs?

Answers on a postcard to the Department of Health.

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