The NHS Confederation has expressed doubts over Conservative proposals to scrap government plans for a central database of patient records.

Confed chief executive Steve Barnett said: “Any radical change will have to satisfy concerns over the security of data, the cost of a new approach and the skills mix of people working in the NHS.

“Currently, some parts of the NHS national programme for IT are working well and it is important the progress already made is built upon rather than discarded.”

He said that while information must be be easily and safely exchanged, changes should include local decision making and only be made if they deliver improvements for patients and save money.

Tory plans call for patient information to be held locally by GPs or hospitals, with the freedom to choose and develop the technology that best suits their needs.

They would also renegotiate existing NHS IT contracts - condemned as “shambolic” by shadow health minister Stephen O’Brien - and give patients control over their medical records.

Mr Barnett said: “Better use of information and IT has become essential as the service has become increasingly devolved and diverse.”