NHS Connecting for Health Response

I was interested to read the NHS Connecting for Health response to the Medix survey of GPs on the progress to date. Perhaps CfH should set up a simple feedback site using Blog/Wiki technology, like Patient Opinion for patients, to encourage GPs to give their views? Also check out the Rod Space piece on this story.

“NHS Connecting for Health recognises that communicating with clinicians from a range of disciplines is essential. Our National Clinical Leads have been strengthening links with professional bodies representing clinicians through national clinical advisory groups, speaking at conferences, meeting with their peers and building networks. In addition, they have been ensuring that the views of the clinical community are represented to NHS Connecting for Health.

“Our own MORI research shows that NHS staff want to be engaged at local level. We have therefore been working through the Strategic Health Authorities to ensure that responsibility is shared and delivered at local level. For example, over a million leaflets went to NHS organisations last year to distribute to their clinicians and staff about the NHS Care Records Service. Further communications to NHS staff are planned.

“MORI work surveyed a range of NHS staff not just doctors and overall, the findings are positive:

  • Staff are supportive of what the programme is trying to achieve and consider it an important priority for the NHS.
  • Around half of staff are favourable towards the programme and around a quarter are neutral.
  • According to MORI, NHS staff awareness levels of NPfIT are as high as could reasonably be expected given that it is a relatively new initiative.
  • Staff agree on the benefits of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) – that it will improve patient care, improve access to information and release more time to be spent with patients.

“It is well known that there is usually a dip in confidence in IT change programmes as early implementation gets underway – this is the phase that NHS Connecting for Health is in. Once people become familiar with new systems their confidence rises. For example, the Quality Management and Analysis System (QMAS) – delivered by NHS Connecting for Health – that enables GPs to get paid for the quality of their care is now ubiquitous and the survey shows that 75% of GPs think it is important.

“Media reporting tends to pick out the negative items. But there is much to be positive about in the full survey:

  • 59% of GPs and 66% of hospital doctors say that clinical care will be significantly improved in the longer term by NPfIT.
  • Over 50% of GPs and 40% of hospital doctors say they have had some / a lot of information about the NPfIT.
  • The majority of doctors are either neutral or think NPfIT will improve their working lives in the longer term.
  • The majority of doctors agree that NPfIT is a priority for the NHS.
  • Half of GPs and the majority of hospital doctors are neutral or positively supportive of NPfIT.

“However, the survey did not give doctors the opportunity to comment on some NPfIT services. For example 94% of GPs’ premises have had a new high speed, backed-up broadband connection installed at their surgery under the N3 programme. This is a foundation stone of NPfIT and the N3 programme is ahead of schedule.

“Concern was expressed on expenditure on NPfIT. However, the aggregated buying power via NHS Connecting for Health of the combined NHS has delivered huge savings over previous piecemeal approaches to IT procurement. Central purchasing of core systems will save the NHS an estimated £3.8 billion over ten years.

“We accept that the NHS has found it challenging to implement Choose and Book, due to the complex technical integration of old and new systems and the organisational and cultural change that is required. We have worked with the NHS to support their implentation efforts. Once people start to use it they become more supportive. Most importantly, Choose and Book is really valued by patients who have used it, they like the certainty of getting an appointment and when it suits them.

“A majority of doctors say there has not been adequate “personal” consultation with them about NPfIT. This is unsurprising given there are nearly 100,000 doctors in England. There has been significant consultation and discussion with doctors’ leaders and representatives and many, many clinical reference groups and user groups. In any case, 5% of responders are satisfied with the level of personal consultation. In aggregate this suggests some 4500 doctors have been personally consulted.”