Government information strategy draft scrapped
The government’s information strategy has been delayed by around three months after a draft document was drawn up and subsequently scrapped, HSJ understands.
Department of Health chief information officer Christine Connelly told the Patient Information Forum annual conference that the strategy would remove barriers that prevent information from flowing around the system and that the emphasis would be on ensuring data was “published, not polished”.
HSJ has learned that the strategy, initially expected to be published this spring, is being rewritten after an initial draft was rejected.
The final document will not set out in detail what each NHS body will have to do in terms of information use but instead focus on a small number of “symbolic acts”, which can be easily measured.
However, Ms Connelly told the conference the DH would issue a response “very soon” to its consultation on Liberating the NHS: an information revolution, which closed in January.
Around 750 responses had been received and analysed and the final information strategy is widely expected to follow the response within a few weeks of its publication.
Ms Connelly told the conference she expected personal health records to be made available to all patients, as was suggested in the consultation.
This would enable patients to share data with support groups or charities, who in turn would be able to gather information about NHS performance and treatment.
The move would also encourage companies to develop tools such as smartphone applications to help patients manage their care better.
At the HC2011 annual informatics congress the previous day, Ms Connelly had said the DH’s thinking was still along the lines set out in the consultation document.
She also emphasised the future role of the interoperability toolkit, known as the ITK.
The ITK, which enables suppliers to link up through the use of common technical standards, would connect a “plurality of systems” and encourage new suppliers to enter the healthcare IT market, she said.
Ms Connelly added that the NHS data spine should be linked to other IT systems through the ITK.
Her comments followed a speech by health secretary Andrew Lansley, in which he said he wanted a more diverse NHS IT market, opened up along the lines of the any qualified provider model for healthcare.
In an apparent attack on the national IT programme, he said: “The old way of centrally planned, fiendishly complicated billion-pound contracts, with a small number of providers did not work. One size does not fit all.”