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Can you see a paperless NHS by 2018?

It has been widely accepted that electronic health records are fundamental to improving patient safety and care. The Government made a commitment to a greater role for IT in healthcare, and proposed to create a ‘paperless NHS’ by 2018.


“This objective will save billions! Improve services! Help meet the challenges of an ageing population! And improve the patient experience!”  declared Jeremy Hunt back in January 2013.

Two years later – what has changed? Can the health service meet this deadline? Or will the NHS just end up with less paper than it did two years ago?

On the way towards the 2018 NHS paperless goal, the Health Secretary wanted to see:

  • By March 2015 – everyone will be able to get online access to their own health records held by their GP.
  • Adoption of paperless referrals – instead of sending a letter to the hospital when referring a patient to hospital, the GP can send an email.
  • Clear plans in place to enable secure linking of these electronic health and care records wherever they are held, so there is as complete a record as possible of the care a patient receives.
  • Clear plans in place for those records to follow individuals, with their consent, to any part of the NHS or social care system.
  • By April 2018 – digital information to be fully available across NHS and social care services, barring any individual opt outs.

How many of the above goals have the NHS achieved? Is this the same in each geographical location or are some parts of the UK ahead of the game? In July 2014, Computer Weekly produced a great round up of the progress being made towards a paperless NHS. Check it out here.

What is the progress in your local trust? What changes have you seen? Is the trust you work in ‘paperless’. If so, how has this impacted performance and the patient experience?

Claire Carter is the Principal of Healthcare at Interim Partners. 

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