While I strongly agree with Carole Appleby that chief executives and others should be encouraged to use the increasing range of information available, I need to sound a note of warning.
I'm not an anorak or a techy nerd, so I have no interest in information management and technology for its own sake. However, I am finding the benefits of technology are increasingly helpful and time-productive in, for example, calling up circulars and other material on the Internet and downloading them into our own computer for ease of reference.
Equally, the fact that all our board directors are linked to e-mail makes transmitting reports and other information very much speedier and easier than conventional printing and snail mail.
Having read Ms Appleby's letter, I tried to call up the Royal Commission's report on long-term care, via www.open.gov.uk.
Zilch response: the website was down, URL unobtainable. Then I called up the Birmingham University health services management centre's website to see its report on the performance of legal advisers (news, page 7, 4 March), to find that the report is only obtainable in hard copy.
If websites are going to advertise, they've got to come up with the goods, otherwise they can expect a steep drop-off in trade. This is certainly not the first time open.gov has been unavailable, and its openness is rapidly becoming a joke.
Ms Appleby quotes her chief executive's praise for NHSnet's bulletin boards. While these are good in principle, they will need self-control to avoid degenerating into an anoraks' jamboree. Hopefully, more folk will start calling in on subjects of policy and substance, and then the debate can move on from chats about the electronic plumbing.
Chief executives, like others, will only be prepared to use the product if it contributes to better management and healthcare. Preaching and exhortation won't help; delivering the service efficiently and on demand just might.
Bath and West Community trust