It seems that big IT projects rarely work: first Identity Card Systems and now the great NHS computer system which would include all a patient’s medical records in one place.
There was in any event a lot of opposition to the great NHS computer system because of the risk of hacking to find confidential details. However there were also enormous potential benefits.
Although we think of one great ‘NHS’, there are in fact hundreds of separate NHS Trusts not to mention thousands of GPs surgeries none of whom will have access to records from elsewhere. Break a leg in Birmingham and, despite being taken to hospital (one Trust) by ambulance (another Trust) your local hospital in Barking will know nothing about it. More significantly, undergo heart surgery in Manchester and when you are blue-lighted to Accident and Emergency in Newcastle for emergency surgery, the surgeons will know nothing about your heart condition. The doctors knowing my medical history could be a matter of life and death and for me that outweighs the risk of anyone hacking into my records to find out that I had croup at the age of 3.
So whilst I am always sceptical about the marketing claims about the power of IT I regret the failure of this project. The best knowledge is key to good healthcare – and knowing a patient’s history is important. I spend my working day acting for the victims of medical accidents and the more good information doctors have, the fewer accidents there will be.Paul Sankey is a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049, fill in our short online claim form or email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.