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Don’t be fooled by the Emperor’s New IT System

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NHS IT is the latest Emperor’s Clothes.

The main beef I have with NHS IT is, well, it’s crap. The systems we have are painfully slow and have had so much bolted on to them over the years, that in the time from first turning your machine on to being able to use it to see patients, it would be possible to do half your day’s paperwork. WOULD BE, if all your paperwork wasn’t computerised.

IT certainly has a role in medicine, but health care is predominantly a face-to-face business, requiring all five senses. Video consultations are never going to replace real life consultations, because in reality they are never going to be much use, other than advising on skin rashes and medication queries. Using them for anything more than this regularly is a potential medico-legal minefield.

It was interesting that our current health secretary did not feel able to attend the Pulse conference in London recently, but did find the time to attend a technology conference in the same building (which he pulled out of to be replaced by the… chief executive of Babylon). His ‘thing’, of course, is technology, but he seems unable to see the limitations of the usefulness of IT in medicine in general, but general practice specifically.

However, ‘they’ (whoever they are) have deemed new technology is the only way forward and we must keep ploughing on at all cost. Matt Hancock seems to have made it his mission for more of our work to be done via video consultations. If Mr Hancock ever finds time to dip a toe in the real world, he would discover that many of our most needy patients are hearing impaired, visually impaired, have learning disabilities or are just too poor to afford a computer or too old to learn how to use one. However, I suspect that this is just me, in a minority as usual, pointing out that the Emperor is not clad in a stunning new suit, but is in fact parading his ugly fat rolls, bollock-naked in front of the masses.

Dr David Turner is a GP in North West London