Tories face NHS database tangle
By Ross Hawkins
BBC News political correspondent
The Tories say their plans will be cheaper than a national database
The Conservatives want to let you view your health records online.
All they have to do first is dismantle one of the biggest civil IT projects in the world.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley made headlines when he told the BBC about plans to give patients access to their medical histories through their home PCs.
But to achieve that the Tories want to pick apart the massive NHS computer project known as the National Programme for IT.
Its goal is to electronically link all GPs and hospitals in England.
Its price tag is £12.7bn, and part of the project is at least four years late. It has long been the target of criticism from MPs, medics and the media.
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NHS facilities in Scotland are currently trialling the use of handheld computers among doctors and nurses.
It is hoped that by distributing information to healthcare professionals electronically, the amount of paper they use will be reduced.
The technology should also allow staff to access and update patient records while they are on the move, thereby freeing up time they would spend using desktop PCs.
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Hospitals roll out hand-held computers giving doctors and nurses instant access to database By Tom Gordon
SCOTLAND IS set to become the first country in the world with an entirely paperless health service, as wireless hand-held computers allow doctors and nurses to check and update patient records wherever they go.
The machines let staff move from bedside to bedside downloading patient histories, test results, and digital x-rays on the electronic equivalent of a clipboard called a mobile clinical assistant (MCA), or toughbook.
Information is delivered through dedicated hospital wi-fi systems, with access to the most sensitive information restricted to senior medical professionals.
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