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RCGP chair backs Tory plans for NHS IT

By Nigel Praities

The RCGP has backed the Conservative Party’s plans to scrap the national electronic care records programme.

Professor Steve Field – speaking at the Westminster Health Forum earlier this week – said he favoured local implementation of the programme rather than a national scheme.

His comments follow Connecting for Health’s recent acceleration of the Summary Care Records rollout, with blanket deployments due to go ahead across at least four SHAs.

Professor Field – who was sat next to shadow minister for health Mark Simmonds at the time he made the comments – also raised concerns over the cost of the scheme.

‘It has cost a lot, hasn’t it? The idea was right, but the easier solution is to have local solutions that work and national standards that they adhere to,’ he said.

The Conservative Party has already said it will scrap the national scheme if it wins the next election, saying it favours patient records being hosted in a variety of settings including individual GP practices, online and on smartcards, but with control held locally by GP commissioners rather than in one centrally-held database.

But Professor Field’s comments come as a surprise given that the RCGP defended the rollout of the Summary Care Record as recently as last summer, arguing that the need for a shared record was ‘compelling’.

In an article in the British Medical Journal in June, Professor Field and RCGP vice chair Dr Clare Gerada wrote: ‘We had concerns over this scheme initially but now believe there are enough checks and balances to make it a significant move forward in patient safety and clinical care.’

Professor Steve Field has backed Tory plans to scrap the national programme for IT

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