Letters

I read with a grim smile your assertion that the 'corporate' approach to NHS IT purchasing 'will undoubtedly please suppliers' ('Record breakers', news focus, page 18, 25 January). Nothing could be further from the truth.

The NHS is too large and too devolved for a rigid central IT policy to be appropriate.

Britain's computer industry includes a number of companies with innovative and useful products that could help achieve NHS IT objectives. To do this, suppliers must be allowed to negotiate contracts at an appropriate level and with reasonable speed.

The story of attempts to centralise NHS IT policy is replete with embarrassing public failures, from the Read Codes to the HISS fiasco. The NHS Executive has a long way to go to persuade suppliers and IT managers that Building the Information Core, with its rhetoric of a 'national solution' and a 'corporate IT approach', is not just another tired turn around the same old track.

The NHS Executive's job is to set national standards for IT, not to impose single-system solutions. To attempt to do this will stamp out ownership of systems at a local level and stifle all the benefits that innovation and competition can bring.

Robin Wells Managing director System C Healthcare