Milburn decides to go for IT

29 Jun 00
Health Secretary Alan Milburn is to use his speech to the NHS Confederation conference on June 30 to announce an additional £60m investment in information technology for the NHS.

30 June 2000

The announcement, the latest in a series of initiatives from Milburn in advance of the publication of the NHS National Plan in July, foreshadows the expansion of the NHS computer network.

The intention, according to the Department of Health, is to give GPs the opportunity to receive diagnostic test results on-line as soon as they are processed, and will offer them the opportunity to book hospital appointments for patients on-line while the patient is still at the surgery.

In addition, pilot projects are to be set up to allow family doctors to send prescriptions electronically to pharmacists, cutting out the need for repeat prescriptions.

The initiative follows the decision that teams formed by primary care providers are to co-ordinate intermediate care for elderly people.

Milburn said that £54.5m would be allocated to primary care groups and trusts in England to allow them to improve access to frontline health professionals and extend the range of treatments and services they can provide on the spot.

One of the services they will be expected to provide is rapid response rehabilitation teams which will co-ordinate care for older people in nursing homes or residential homes.

The move follows the publication of The way to go home – an Audit Commission report about rehabilitation and remedial services for the elderly – which suggested that patients could be returned to their own homes sooner with the right level of support.

News of the primary care response teams has been welcomed by the Local Government Association, which is opposed to NHS Confederation proposals to make PCTs responsible for commissioning all aspects of elderly care.

Jeni Bremner, LGA health policy officer, does not see the teams as a threat to the work of social services. She said: 'The NHS Act 1999 allows for flexibility with pooled budgets and integrated commissioning and service delivery.

'Our assumption is that the teams would be approaching the development of intermediate care in partnership with their local authority colleagues.'


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