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Pulse comment

Time to learn lessons on IT

The Government has had its fingers burned so many times by IT fiascos recently – from lost criminal records to lost junior doctors – it seems almost masochistic to plunge its fist straight into another fire.

But there's no sign yet that ministers have learned their lessons, judging by the growing storm over the National Programme for IT.This week, Pulse reveals a major split in Bolton, chosen as a pilot area for the rollout of the controversial electronic patient care record.A group of Bolton GPs with deep reservations about the programme are furious at what they see as patients being pressurised into taking part.Meanwhile, GPs across the UK are starting to detect an undercurrent of discontent from patients, with six out of 10 telling Pulse they have already been approached by patients wanting to opt out.

Fears that cannot be ignored

Not every GP will support the precise terms of Pulse's campaign Common Sense on IT, which includes a call for an opt-in model for any sharing of records and a watertight system to anonymise them.

Yet the number of those with serious concerns is simply too great to ignore. This is an issue that has the potential to dwarf the MTAS scandal if the worst fears of many come true. Gordon Brown is an avid reader of history. Surely it is time his health service generals begin to learn from recent events and act to avoid another IT blunder.

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