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NHS challenged to be paperless by 2015

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The NHS should be paperless by 2015 according to Tim Kelsey, national director for patients and informatior at the NHS Commissioning Board Authority.

Speaking at the Healthcare Efficiency Through Technology Expo in London, Mr Kelsey described the NHS as a ‘knowledge based service' and suggested the sector operates on two core principals of transparency and participation.

Mr Kelsey issued a challenge to the sector - to create a paperless NHS by 2015 - just days after health secretary Jeremy Hunt warned the ‘technology revolution' had ‘barely touched the NHS'. ‘Why can people access their bank records online but not their medical ones?' asked Mr Hunt. ‘Why can you order your groceries at home but not your prescription? Why can you book a hotel but not a GP appointment?

‘The big Labour disaster with the NHS IT contracts must not stop us trying to crack this. Which means no to top-down, bureaucratic procurement - but yes to more information, faster response and the better service from technology.' Mr Hunt began by announcing a £100 million fund for nurses in primary and secondary to invest in technology to reduce form-filling and increase patient time. 

The NHS will be loaned cash to fund these technologies and will be required to repay a percentage, though organisations that receive positive feedback from patients in the forthcoming ‘Friends and Family test' will not have to repay anything. It is understood that the test only applies to staff working in acute settings, but as IN was going to press, the DH was unable to confirm how primary care nurses would be able to reclaim the money.

RCN head of policy Howard Catton, said: ‘We have been lobbying for new technology, but I don't think the link between the loan and friends and family tests is appropriate. Money for technology should not be dependent on how well an organisation performs. The organisations scoring poorly are the ones that should have more money to help. ‘It's not clear about community services, but community nurses need mobile devices for checking patient files. The details will, as ever, be important.'

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