back to article NHS 'paperless roadmap': Fewer dead trees, more data control

NHS Digital, the body formerly known as HSCIC, has released a roadmap for the government's long in the tooth paperless health service plan. Contained in its board minute papers was an overview of its paperless plans for 2020, include a map of its portfolio of "key outcomes and ministerial commitments." Part of the strategy …

  1. AMBxx Silver badge
    Big Brother

    2 per cent of the country took him up on that offer.

    And 100% of the people who understood the question.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2 per cent of the country took him up on that offer.

      i thought i knew about the opt outs and didnt know about this one.

      time to do some research and find this opt out and who to send it to.

      looks like you now need to opt out for different things at different places. GP, CCG, hospital trust.. ETC ETC ETC ETC....... NO central NHS opt out.

      can you opt out directly with HSCIC (NHS Digital) from holding your data at all. i dont trust them they ARE NOT the NHS they are a separate Executive Non-Departmental Public Body. I want my healthcare data to be in the NHS ONLY!!!!!!

  2. Elmer Phud

    Does paperless mean more time?

    Currently going through process that will end up with radiotherapy to deal with prostate cancer.

    The ambulance chasers have instilled procedures where my GP gets a letter each time I see a consultant.

    If my GP gets one each time a patient on thier books sees a specialist or has a hospital appointment then they do not have time to do thier job properly as they are inundated with paper.

    How this would be any different, I fail to see.

    The GP will still have to tick a box somewhere, mark it 'read or whatever'.

    I can only forsee another round of IT consultancy firms making money.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does paperless mean more time?

      I thought the letter from consultant to GP was standard professional practice ??

      After all, the GP needs to know what's going on with you. It's him/her who refers you to the consultant.

      What's (comparatively) new is us being privy to that communication through receiving a copy of the letter

    2. Halfmad Silver badge

      Re: Does paperless mean more time?

      That's standard practice, the GP has to know of any change (or not) in your condition and what's been done, they also MUST see the letter or if your GP isn't available the practice must handle it appropriately, this is established practice going back decades, it's purely to keep the practice informed so that if you need new drugs during treatment you don't get the wrong ones which interfere with treatment or have a knock on effect with drugs you were given at the hospital etc.

      The biggest difference is that the practice will no longer need to store rooms full of paper, ours no longer keep any paper records, it's all electronic. Any paper that comes in is scanned, filed electronically and shredded securely each few weeks.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Does paperless mean more time?

        So that 'letter' ends up being

        1) consultant dictates letter into tape recorder

        2) Consultant secretary types up the letter and prints it out for the consultant to check

        3) After checking, consultants secretary prints out three copies of the letter.

        1) for your paper file at the hospital

        2) For posting to your GP

        3) For sending you a copy

        4) Then they do magic with mail merge and print out two envelopes

        5) Put letters in envelopes and put into internal mail.

        Like Elmer, I know this from my own experience with my Blood Cancer consultant.

        This could be all made an awful lot easier using.... you know, something simple like



        and leaving the above process left for those who don't have email.

        And my GP practice still uses reams of paper for just about anything that goes outside the practice.

        1. not.known@this.address Bronze badge

          Re: Does paperless mean more time?

          "1) consultant dictates letter into tape recorder

          2) Outsourced company employing foreign English(barely)-speaking workers on minimum wage types up the letter and prints it out for the consultant to check

          3) After a short time(*), the outsourced prints out three copies of the letter. (*)The consultant is far too busy to actually check the letter, either because they are an overworked and underappreciated NHS staffer or because they are an overpaid, sponging Private Consultant who overcharges the NHS and spends most of his "working" day on the golf course or dining with his colleagues (the other Private Consultants, not the NHS ones who do 90% of the work for a fraction of the pay)."

          There, fixed that for you.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Does paperless mean more time?

            > "go paperless by 2018, saving £4.4bn"

            There's a meaningless claim if I ever saw one. Does it mean £4.4bn per year? £4.4bn over 10 years? £4.4bn one-off benefit?

            If they mean £4.4bn per year, it seems unlikely. That would be equivalent to losing 176,000 administrative staff on £25K each. Is there really *that* much manual filing or appointment taking being done?

            For comparison, there are just under 9,800 GP practices in the whole UK.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              FYI, everybody...

              "Consultant dictates letter into tape recorder...Consultant secretary types up the letter...(&c)"

              This is not the way it works now. They don't just send a mail, e- or otherwise, saying "Mrs Smith needs an appointment", and hope for the best.

              The NHS uses a system called e-Referral Service to track every patient who gets, y'know, referred from one place to another, which (in theory) ensures that no-one 'falls through the gap' because a mail doesn't arrive, or gets wrongly marked as 'read'.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          "This could be all made an awful lot easier using.... you know, something simple like"

          My British friends tell me some places use the new fangled fascimile machines, apparently.

          Welcome to the early 90's.

      2. Richard Jones 1

        Re: Does paperless mean more time?

        The alternative is the letter not coming through so you do not get the medicinal follow up without jumping through the hoops to get a secretary to send it out specially and you taking a copy to the practice to get what is required.

        Doing it automatically via joined up electronics would be great if it cuts out the 2~5 months wait.

        It would be nice if you did not have the papers sent to one satellite clinic and the patient to a different one so taxis have to drive across the country while you wait two hours.

        No these are not fictional.

        Throw in stopping consultants commiserating with patients who don't have inoperable fatal cancer on the basis of a scan they have not had because the notes apply to someone else anyway and you might get some progress.

        And yes these are all true stories.

        There are some success stories as well, e.g. digital scans being available when I saw surgeons in different locations who just brought up the images on the screen in front of them. If only that was universal.

        Why do I have to run round with details of my history and tablet regime? Warning, after 70 plus years both are a bit long and my memory is a bit imperfect.

  3. Wayland Bronze badge

    Laser printers all round

    Our GP has a paperless system but says she uses more paper now because of the laser printer.

  4. localzuk

    Too much too fast

    Paperless by 2020? Far too much to do in far too short a time.

    Why not do it sensibly? Look at how things are done and split it all up into small projects. Determine a framework for how all that will fit together. And finally, start one of the projects.

    Once that one project is finished, move onto the next.

    The problem that big IT projects seem to have is they do it all at once. So, everything goes horribly wrong and the entire thing fails miserably, rather than one small part of it being a problem.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GPs don't always do email

    There are GPs in the Midlands who claim that they are in too remote an area to get email.

    On checking, it was found that they can get email but really, really, don't want to. They want it all faxed.


    You can lead a horse to water but if you can get it to float on it's back,you're onto a winner!

  6. alun phillips


    With Hunt in charge I'll be pleasantly surprised if we have an NHS come 2020.

  7. Chika


    Let's face it, most of the projects like this one are thought up by managers, politicians and others with no real idea about how to implement such an idea.

    On the surface it sounds like a good idea - remove all the paper and replace it with some form of digital substitute. It saves waste, it saves storage, it saves all sorts of things but in the end it saves money. That's what they are thinking.

    If you look across the public services you will see any number of "initiatives" to cut paper use and you will notice three specific things in every case:

    1. They were thought up by high level people (executive or higher) who have no technical involvement with the job they seek to change.

    2. The budget they put into place is unrealistic. It either causes a failure or is overrun in pursuit of successful implementation, though even an overrun is no guarantee of success.

    3. If the project succeeds (something that is becoming rare these days), what is there is normally varies from the original idea, either through necessity or because the original plan wasn't feasible.

    As far as this particular project is concerned, it is made that much worse because it is a political flash point that can be used to provide support from one side of the political spectrum but should it go wrong, it can cause a massive loss of support from another side. Either way it uses people's well being as a political toy, something that I find totally unacceptable.

  8. ThisPlaceInTime

    Oh so difficult

    Meanwhile other countries have happily instituted paperless health record systems years ago.

    But not Britain. Oh no, we're too special.

    1. Chika

      Re: Oh so difficult

      It isn't that we're too special.

      Unless you mean that we a especially good in cocking up this sort of thing, of course...

  9. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Meanwhile other countries have happily instituted paperless health record systems years ago.

    That is because they usually have form of central identity database. One of the biggest problems of doing anything in the UK is that you do not have a reliable identity database and/or personal identifiers to which to link data. Each part of the state uses its own (NI, NHS number, etc).

    1. cantankerous swineherd

      the NHS has the NHS number. what more would they need?

  10. JassMan Silver badge

    Surely they would save more money by ditching Windows XP

    Obviously not by upgrading to Windows 10 because then they wouldn't be able to sell off patient data, since Microsoft would already have hoovered it all up and sold it on, as allowed under the latest EULA. But if they insist on using Windows, they should be able to run most of the old software in compatibility mode under Win8.x. Better still, they should bite the bullet and swap to some form of Linux probably with XFCE since this would give them most of the look and feel they are used to.

    Has anyone done any testing with Wine to see if any of these mission critical apps which only run under XP can be made to run under Linux?

  11. PeterM42
    Thumb Down


    For a VERY EXPENSIVE dead end.

    is: keep wasting money and the NHS will die. It is already extremely unwell.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019