Hospital librarians are being denied access to the Internet by 'technophobe' managers who fear they will spend their time downloading pornography, according to a survey by medical networking experts at Nottingham University.

One librarian complained of being refused a link to NHSnet on the grounds that 'if we are given access we will hack into the Department of Health'.

The 'informal study' by John Kirriemuir, service manager at the Organisation for Medical Networked Information, was sparked by the large number of people contacting it by telephone or post rather than electronic means. It discovered that some medical librarians were forced to send staff to nearby cybercafes in search of Internet access, or to use home computers to find information.

Others said only senior trust managers were allowed Internet access.

Reporting his findings in Ariadne, an electronic journal for library and information professionals, Mr Kirriemuir comments: 'So - we have a problem.'

He warns that without 'full Internet access sooner rather than later', initiatives such as the National Electronic Library for Health will create a divide between the 'well connected' and the 'information poor'.

OMNI: accessing the Internet.