Published: 10/02/2005, Volume II5, No. 5942 Page 9

National IT programme director general Richard Granger highlighted the security risks of paperbased systems as central to the case for electronic patient records.

He told the World Health Care Congress last week: 'I do not think There is been honesty in England about the dangers of paper, ' before going on to illustrate the problems he believes that the programme will obviate, such as poorly managed information and confidentiality.

Mr Granger displayed the current typical NHS 'high-speed, hightransmission information device' - a blue trolley chaotically stacked with records and print-outs in a public access corridor.

'You see patient confidentiality as it is today: it is fairly difficult for someone to [ever] go and 'find' a record which they wish to compromise, ' he noted.

He also considered computers as he sees them employed in healthcare: 'The computer screen is the primary depository for that lovely 1980s proprietary technology developed by 3M, the Post-It note... Important for handing bits of information between one member of staff and another - and whoever else happens to be walking past.' He said the next year would see the programme focus on communicating the benefits of electronic patient records to the public.

'Eighty per cent-plus of patients think the person they saw at the beginning of their care episode has, of course, sent the information through a computer system to the succession of people they see subsequently, ' Mr Granger explained.

'We have a complex communication task in front of us in England this year to explain that that is rarely the case, ' he added.