An HSJ roundtable in association with HCI Group considered why universal EPR coverage has been an elusive goal for so long

Read the detailed report of the roundtable here

In February 2022, the then-health and social care secretary made a pronouncement that anyone with a long memory of NHS digitisation couldn’t help but greet with a wry smile.

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Former health and social care secretary Sajid Javid unveiled an aim – subsequently codified in a June policy paper – for all trusts to have an electronic patient record system by March 2025.

But if one of Mr Javid’s predecessors had realised his own aim, there would have been no need for this new target. That’s because, almost a decade ago, Jeremy Hunt pledged that the NHS would be paperless by 2020.

He did so shortly after the dismantling of the National Programme for IT. That had been announced a decade before by then-prime minister Tony Blair. Its stated goal? To implement a small number of EPRs across NHS regions.

So why, 20 years after eliminating them became a government aim, are paper records still used in a significant minority of trusts? Will the latest target be the one to finally unlock universal electronic records in English NHS trusts? Can it genuinely be the case that third time’s the charm?

HSJ recently ran a virtual roundtable debate to consider the answers to these questions. The event, which was run in association with HCI Group, united experts from across the country. Together, they considered why it has been so challenging to date for acute trusts to universally implement EPRs – and debated whether success can now finally be secured.


  • Rod Gamble, associate vice president, HCI Group
  • Alexandra Lawrence, programme manager health and social care, techUK
  • William Lumb, chief clinical information officer, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust
  • David Maguire, senior analyst, The King’s Fund
  • Sonia Patel, system CIO and director of levelling up, NHS England Transformation Directorate
  • Daniel Ray, chief technology officer, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Foundation Trust
  • Philip Scott, chair, BCS Health and Care
  • Claire Read, contributor, HSJ (roundtable chair)