Paperless health service open to criticism

16 January 2013
Today health secretary Jeremy Hunt will call for the NHS to be paperless by 2018. As well as saving the NHS billions of pounds a year through better use of IT, this is part of a move to give people access to their health records online. I think this could be a potentially disastrous step. And it would appear those in charge are also reluctant – since the idea was first announced back in 2010, progress on the transition has been slow. The NHS already gets plenty of stick - whether over patient waiting times, poor care or lack of staff - and this will be magnified if the public are given, as is proposed, the opportunity to report personal experiences and rate NHS organisations online. A lot of harm can be done if people are given free range to voice their opinions, with Twitter being a prime example. The move could open up a bedpan of abuse and provoke personal attacks on individual members of staff. Although some aspects of the initiative would indeed be useful, such as booking GP appointments online, I fear a system with no paper is a system fit for failure.
Richmond upon Thames, London (Greater)
Falmer, Brighton
£33,797 rising to £40,322 per annum
University of Sussex
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