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NHS IT

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the efficiency of the roll-out of the NHS IT programme to genito-urinary medicine clinics; what representations she has received on this matter; and what response she has given. (80982)

National and local systems and services continue to be rolled out across the country in ever-increasing numbers, and every national health service location has already benefited under the national programme from delivery of software, hardware or the broadband connections that enable these to be accessed. We are on track to complete the national programme, as planned, by 2010.

In parallel with the deployment of national systems, thousands of local systems have now been delivered and serve more than 240,000 users. This includes many acute sector departmental systems supporting clinical specialties, though no systems designed specifically to support genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinics, or other sexual health services, have yet gone live. We are not aware of any representations specifically on this matter. However, the programme's national “Do Once and Share” project, under the directorship of Professor Muir Gray, has engaged GUM and other sexual health clinicians, and consulted them on their future information management and technology needs. The results are being shared nationally with the support of the IM and T group of the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV.

We recognise that it is of enormous importance that systems and services delivered through the national programme should guarantee the very particular information security and confidentiality requirements of patients accessing GUM and sexual health services. Stringent security controls and safeguards have been incorporated to prevent unrestricted or uncontrolled access to personal information. Access is controlled via a unique user identity, involving a pass code and smart card, which can only be obtained on verification of identity and through a formal user registration process.