‘We must walk before we can run’ regarding tech in the NHS

The RCGP’s new ‘tech manifesto’ states that a robust all-encompassing system is required across the NHS before IT can truly revolutionise patient care

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has released its new ‘tech manifesto’, which states that the NHS should be a world leader in technology.

The manifesto states that a joined-up IT system stretching across the NHS should be prioritised before patient care can be truly overhauled by technology.

RCGP research shows that, if nothing changes, around 80% of practices could soon be using outdated IT systems that are insufficient for the future of healthcare, according to Pharma Times.

In response, the British Medical Association (BMA) has backed up the RCGP’s ‘walk before we can run’ position.

Dr Farah Jameel, BMA GP committee executive team IT lead, said: “Ensuring NHS IT systems and infrastructure are fit for purpose is fundamental for improving patient care and increasing productivity, and advances in technology have the potential to transform the lives of both healthcare staff and patients.

“As the RCGP points out, we must walk before we can run, and getting the basics right must be the priority ahead of any promised ‘digital revolution’.

“The College’s manifesto echoes what the BMA has been saying for some years about IT in general practice, and across the health service.

“A recent survey of BMA members found that a quarter felt that IT systems at their place of work are not fit for purpose, with over half reporting that the current IT infrastructure significantly increases their day-to-day workload.

“It is crucial, therefore, that the starting point is to address the serious deficiencies in the current system, which result in additional workload and stress, and can put patient safety at risk.

“To this end, the BMA wrote to the Health and Social Care Secretary earlier this month outlining our own recommendations for IT in the NHS.

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“Basic hardware must be upgraded to meet a national standards, while patient experience and staff education and training must all be considered as key factors for achieving digital transformation.

“As part of this year’s GP contract deal, GPC negotiated important digital commitments, ensuring improvements to the current GP IT estate and fully-resourced IT infrastructure that is both fit for purpose and for the future, aligning with national ambitions towards digital-first primary care.

 “Only when systems can seamlessly communicate, be these in GP practices, hospitals or other settings, can we have a truly interoperable NHS and fully embrace a collaborative way of working to improve the lives of both staff and their patients.”

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