Bloom is off the rose for U.K. IT system

December 14, 2007

The long-simmering opposition of British primary-care doctors to the National Health Service's big health IT plans has finally coalesced.

The long-simmering opposition of British primary-care doctors to the National Health Service's big health IT plans has finally coalesced, according to an article in The Guardian ("Family doctors to shun national database of patients' records," Nov. 20, 2007). A Guardian poll of family physicians showed that two-thirds are opposed to putting medical records of 50 million NHS patients in a national electronic database. Fifty-nine percent of the GPs said they'd be unwilling to upload any record without a patient's consent. The current NHS approach is to have doctors send all their clinical data to the central data warehouse unless a patient objects.

The main reason for the doctors' opposition is that they fear the personal health data will be stolen by hackers or by NHS personnel with access to the database. A year ago, only 38 percent of the GPs refused to upload the records, so resistance is apparently rising.

The data warehouse will allow creation of a comprehensive patient record that providers will be able to use when they're treating patients. It's part of a £12.4 billion government effort to modernize the country's health IT systems. The survey found that 70 percent of GPs and hospital doctors believe the overall program is a poor use of NHS resources.