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Paperless NHS by 2018 target could be missed without ‘step-up in activity’

The Government’s bid for a ‘paperless NHS’ by 2018 requires a ‘step-up in activity’ if the scheme is to recover from recent delays and deliver on time.

The ‘Digitising the NHS by 2018 – One Year On’ report, published this week by the technology think-tank, TechUK, said that ‘progress is underway’, but warned that projects are being scaled down, such as the commitment to have full online patient records.

It suggested the Government should ensure digital systems are compatible with one another, better engage healthcare professionals and the public in developing digital products and services, and investing more in raising awareness of the benefits of technology.

The last two points come almost a month after NHS England announced a six month delay of its flagship electronic record sharing scheme,, to build patient awareness of the benefits.

The report states that ‘progress is underway’ but adds: ‘The complexity of the initiative has meant there has not been universal uptake just yet, as NHS organisations vary in their skills, resource, and readiness to make progress. ‘

‘We have also seen timescales for some individual projects slip and/or the deliverables be scaled down to meet deadlines. For example the ambition to have patient records accessible online by March 2015 has been amended to just include information in the Summary Care Record.’

TechUK’s head of health and social care, Natalie Bateman, said: ‘Good progress has been made in regards to planning and allocating the necessary funding for a digital health service; however more is needed in the coming year.’

‘Whilst it is clear that some NHS providers are well underway in terms of implementing the paperless agenda, the majority are only just starting out on their digital health journey.’