The Conservative Party has announced plans to overhaul Labour's current NHS IT structure.
Its proposals will aim to deliver cost savings and will help ensure that NHS IT is geared towards the needs and wishes of patients. In addition, patients will be consulted on the use of their healthcare information.
The key proposals will seek to dismantle Labour's central NHS IT infrastructure, delivering its benefits through local systems instead, and to halt and renegotiate the contracts Labour has signed for IT service providers to prevent further inefficiencies.
It will also aim to stop imposing central IT systems on the NHS, instead allowing healthcare providers to use and develop the IT they have already purchased and developed, within a rigorous framework of interoperability.
Finally it will encourage the use of open source across the public sector. As healthcare IT is freed from the constraints of Labour's central programme, both private sector and open source software will develop.
Recommendations in an independent review of NHS and social care IT published this month, claimed that ‘the patient must be at the centre of all information systems; the provision of patient level operational data should form the foundation of NHS IT' and ‘the dataset mentality, where the bulk of data collected bears not relevance to patient care, should be abandoned'.
It also claimed that: “The NHS must take a long-term strategic view of IT. The delivery of information systems should not be driven by political or bureaucratic timescales but by strategies that are focused on the care of the patient.”
Labour had announced a £12 billion plan to allow the electronic transfer and management of health data, which the Tories yesterday claimed that they were sending ‘a clear signal of intent' to scrap large parts of.
Conservative Party leader David Cameron, said: “There is huge potential for the NHS to harness the power of technology in bringing about change. As patients, we want to know we're getting the best possible care; as taxpayers we want to know we're getting value for money: technology, well-applied, can create opportunities for both in a decentralised NHS.”
Shadow health minister, Stephen O'Brien, said: “Labour's handling of NHS IT has been shambolic. Their top-down, bureaucratic plans have been hugely disruptive to the NHS and have been plagued with delays and cost overruns. Conservatives will not let patients pay the price for the Government's inaction.”