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Information Management

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health which NHS trusts are experiencing problems with the compatibility of the computer systems used to record data. [130156]

Problems with compatibility are the responsibility of local trusts to resolve with their suppliers. No data are currently collected and no reports are routinely made to the Department on any such problems. The collection of such data is not a part of core reporting requirements for the National Health Service and it would not be economically viable or appropriate on business grounds to add this requirement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans his Department has to improve standards of information management in the NHS. [130157]

Two key initiatives which aim to improve the standards of information management in the national health service focus on the better recording and exchange of information to national standards and the development of health informatics skills.All national standards for the recording and transfer of information across the NHS now have to be approved by the independent NHS information standards board. This ensures that data are collected using agreed common standards so that NHS information can be used consistently across the NHS. When approved, these standards are included within the NHS data dictionary which provides the core reference manual on information standards for the NHS. Part of the approval process of the information standards board is to ensure compatibility with the design authority of the national programme for information technology. This Design Authority is responsible for the design of the future NHS IT infrastructure through which much patient-related information will be collected in future.The management of information to support the delivery of patient care and healthcare service planning and performance is undertaken by a range of people within the NHS. This includes clinicians, managers and specialist information analysts working in a range of local and national NHS organisations. For effective use of information, skills in health informatics are vital to ensure that information is not misinterpreted or misunderstood. The National Health Informatics Development Programme run by the NHS Information Authority is developing a range of products and services which aim to improve these across the NHS, so that the analysis and interpretation of information is undertaken to clear professional standards.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance his Department gives to health authorities to ensure they comply with the Freedom of Information Act 2000. [130158]

The Department set up a high level steering group in 2001 to oversee implementation of the Freedom of Information Act in the Department itself and in the National Health Service.In line with the Government's policy of empowering front-line staff, the steering group commissioned a project, led by South East London Strategic Health Authority, to develop an implementation plan and provide guidance on Freedom of Information for the NHS. NHS staff from trusts and strategic health authorities have collaborated to develop the plan and guidance.Working closely with the Information Commissioner's office, the project has produced model publication schemes, which have been adopted by trusts, strategic health authorities and independent practitioners. Guidance on other aspects of Freedom of Information has been made available by the project through a national awareness programme.

Within the Department, a Freedom of Information Unit (also set up in 2001), supports the steering group and provides support as needed by the NHS project team. This unit has prepared a departmental implementation plan and begun conducting awareness events for all staff.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the progress of the NHS national information technology programme. [130395]

The national programme for information technology in the national health service is continuing to make good progress on schedule. The previously published milestones have all been met, in particular for:

E-booking—three bidders were shortlisted on time, best and final offer proposals were received at the end of August 2003 and the project received a successful gateway 3 review.
The new NHS network—six responses to the preliminary invitation to negotiate were received on time, three bidders were shortlisted on schedule and we are looking to an accelerated procurement timetable to select a winner by the end of 2003.
Electronic transfer of prescriptions—the target remains as 50 per cent. of transactions by the end of 2005 and 100 per cent. by the end of 2007. Scope and objectives have been agreed by the programme board.
Integrated care records service (National Patient Record Spine)— four bidders' proposals received on time on 30 June 2003. Two shortlisted companies are bidding. Contract award planned for 31 October 2003.
Integrated care records service (local service providers)—10 shortlisted bidders against five clusters of NHS strategic health authorities are continuing in the procurement competition.