A pilot version of the National Electronic Library for Health was launched at the NHS Information Authority's first conference in Birmingham, with three floors of virtual information including national guidelines, the full Cochrane Library and virtual libraries on specific conditions. A fourth floor for patients was originally envisaged, but this role has been taken over by NHS Direct Online. A full business case will be developed for a permanent version with more features (See news focus, page 15,7 December 2000).
www. nelh. nhs. uk Another conference, another launch. The Telemedicine Information Service, a directory giving details of and contacts for 120 UK telemedicine projects, went live at Telemed 2001. The Department of Health is spending£90,000 over three years on the service, provided by the British Library in conjunction with the healthcare computing group at Portsmouth University. People who do not have access to the Internet can interrogate the database by phone.
www. tis. bl. uk Tel:020-7412 7489.
The National Blood Authority and mobile business solutions company Boltblue are working on a project to send mobile phone text messages to university students, encouraging them to give blood. A trial at five universities saw donor levels rise by 32 per cent. NBA marketing initiatives manager Martin Weller said students were happy to donate, but difficult to track.
The British Computer Society has warned that a clause in the Health and Social Care Bill could threaten the privacy of patients'personal medical data. The society has joined others calling for the withdrawal of clause 67 (originally clause 59) of the bill. It gives the health secretary powers to control data usage, including the discretion to permit the use of patient-identifiable data without patient consent. Junior health minister Gisela Stuart has claimed the measure is needed to keep essential services running, including the cancer registries, which are not complying with the Data Protection Act.
A website has been set up to co-ordinate the battle against the bill, now being discussed by the Lords: www. gorjuss. com/ medicalprivacy