"There are so many examples of GPs and hospitals doing different and innovative things with IT, all with the patient at the core and all about using information in the proper way."
Whilst this is true, what it fails to reflect is the fact that although the NHS is perceived as one huge organisation with united leadership (like some other huge organisations like McDonalds) it is actually a collection of thousands of individual organisations with only broad goals laid down by the central organising authority.
The many examples of clinician-led IT implementations in the NHS are for the most part very good but unfortunately almost never able to be integrated with any of the other systems in use (without some horrendous cobbled together interface system coded by the lowest bidder).
For example, as part of my day-to-day work* I use our electronic patient record, A&E information system, legacy library system (for locating case notes), electronic radiology system, internal data collection and warehousing system, internal reporting system, outsourced reporting systems for public data and all the regular office type software**. All of these are separate systems have different usernames and passwords (with enforced password rotation at different times and periodicity) and none of them communicate to each other at all - to the point where I sometimes have to literally cut and paste information from one system display window to another.
There have been attempts in the past to unite all this under an all-consuming NHS IT system but these have fallen by the wayside when faced with the immense cost and complexity of what is actually required. The only real solution would be such a system but any such project must come with the understanding of, and commitment to, a humongous price tag.
* I am a nurse, I work at a normal hospital (DGH) involved in both the clinical treatment of cardio-respiratory patients and the collection and processing of data relating to that treatment for research and performance monitoring, so I have some experiance in both clinical requirements and IT realities.
** Still on MS Office 2007 and IE (gasp!) 6 (although I did have to install firefox on my own PC (IT don't support it and won't install it for me) as some of the external database provider web interfaces do not render in IE6).