The multi-billion-pound NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) risks failure if it does not engage the medical profession, the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned.
The programme should learn from past government IT projects, where poor user consultation has contributed to failure, said John Powell, chairman of the BMA’s IT committee.
The NPfIT aims to allow all GPs in England to book their patients hospital appointments online. It will also create around 50 million electronic health records and allow the electronic transfer of prescriptions.
But Powell said the medical profession had not had enough involvement in the design and implementation of the programme.
“Clinical staff must be consulted,” he said. “There is no point investing billions of pounds in systems that do not have the confidence of the users.”
The programme should support healthcare workers in delivering a better service to their patients, Powell said.
“We hope that improvements to IT systems will reduce the administrative burden on doctors so they can spend more time treating patients,” he said.