Following the release of an independent review into NHS IT, the Conservatives have announced plans to overhaul Labour's current system.
The proposals 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 are to:
- Seek to dismantle Labour's central NHS IT infrastructure, delivering its benefits through local systems instead.
- Halt and renegotiate the contracts Labour have signed for IT service providers to prevent further inefficiencies.
- 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.
- 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.
In response to the review, 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."
And the Shadow Health Minister, Stephen O'Brien, added: "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."