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NHS could be 'paperless' by 2015

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The government will commit the NHS to a “paperless” future, possibly by as soon as 2015, according to the health service’s new informatics chief.

Ministers will later this month issue the new NHS Commissioning Board with a mandate setting out objectives for new body, which will take over responsibility for the day-to-day running of the health service from the government in April.

Tim Kelsey, the board’s director of patient and public engagement, insight and informatics, told a conference last week the mandate would “contain a commitment” to switch to digital only forms of communication.

Mr Kelsey told the Healthcare Efficiency through Technology Expo that he was “pushing for the end of 2015 to be the moment that we eradicate paper from the NHS”.

He admitted it was an “ambitious” target, but said it would lead to a “much better, safer experience” for patients, as it should mean an end to records being lost.

Mr Kelsey’s comments followed an announcement that £100m would be offered to the NHS to spend on new technology for nurses to “free up time for patient care and help make essential patient details instantly available on the ward, at the bedside or in the community”.

Ministers said nurses and midwives would decide “what kit is best for their own workplace”, but highlighted examples such as digital pens and handheld mobile devices.

The government will loan the funding to the NHS, but trusts that receive positive feedback from patients in its new “friends and family test” will not have to repay the money. The patient feedback test comes into effect across England in April.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • One advantage of paper, is that if a note is written on paper, and left where it can be read, anyone can read it and it isn't subject to 'crashing'.

    That isn't invariably true of digital records.

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  • If paper is such a bad thing, why are the handheld pregnancy notes so successful?

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