The Royal Hospital Haslar in Portsmouth has established a telemedicine link to Bosnia, allowing consultants to give guidance on emergency care to a military field hospital. Photographs of trauma cases taken with an Olympus C-1400L digital camera are sent as e-mail, via satellite to England. Set up by doctors from the Defence Medical Services telemedicine team, the project has been awarded a British Computer Society innovation medal.
The government is neglecting its duty to fund IT development for the new primary care groups, according to the former chair of the National Association of Commissioning GPs.
Andrew Willis has accused ministers of ignoring the resource requirements of PCGs, particularly for the period up to April.
This, he says, is 'in sharp contrast to the endeavour put in at the beginning of fundholding when a national specification for software was developed and extra money released to reimburse fundholders for computing and personnel costs'.
According to Dr Willis, many non-fundholders are still using 'dumb terminals', which will have to be replaced with PC-based practice management systems.
But after April, money for new systems will not be reimbursed. Instead, it will come from the unified PCG budgets, which for non-fundholding practices are likely to be under pressure, as many are areas with high clinical needs.
Unless the government provides extra funds for these practices, Dr Willis warns, in the British Medical Journal, it will leave a 'legacy of inequity in GP computing'.