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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Keep our NHS Public

Save Our NHS

A little "off topic" but important for those in the UK who work in or use the NHS.

Over the last couple of weeks & in particular at the Labour Party Conference there has been debate about increasing the use of the private sector to deliver elective diagnostic tests and treatments. This campaign has been set up to try put pressure on ministers to keep the NHS as a public sector institution.

If you are interested the campaign "launch statement" is below, which can be seen and signed on the web site at:

Keep our NHS public!
The NHS stands at a crossroads. For nearly 60 years Britain has enjoyed a National Health Service that strives to be comprehensive, accessible and high value for money. Now, government reforms threaten both the ethos of the NHS, and the planned and equitable way in which it delivers care to patients.

At the heart of the changes is the creation of a market that welcomes profit-driven international corporations who answer to shareholders, not patients. This market will compel hospitals and health professionals, who have traditionally cooperated to deliver healthcare, to compete with each other and with the private sector. Far from supporting the NHS, the private sector is in competition with it, and is already draining away resources and staff.

If these reforms continue the nature of the health system will change

* Income and profits will increasingly come before patient needs and clinical considerations.
* Greater inequalities in healthcare will appear, as profitable services and patients attract money at the expense of unprofitable ones.
* Forced market competition among NHS hospitals and primary care will break up the NHS as a network of collaborating bodies that share resources and information. Our integrated NHS GP service will be lost. There will be winners and losers, with some units and even entire hospitals having to close. We are already seeing job losses and bed closures in NHS hospitals.
* Even more of the new money allocated to health will be diverted to shareholders and company profits, and wasted on the huge administrative costs associated with establishing and running a market.

There is no evidence that these reforms will improve the health service. And in spite of increased spending on healthcare, and government commitment to "patient choice", the end result of these reforms will undermine the choice that is most important to patients - access to comprehensive, trustworthy, and local health services.

The situation is grave. The value of the NHS is immense and cannot be mirrored by the private sector. It must be kept in public hands, serving the interests of all patients and the broader public, not the private healthcare industry.

We therefore call on organisations, healthcare workers, patients and the public to campaign to protect the NHS from further privatisation and fragmentation, and to keep our NHS public.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Margaret's ePod: An Interview With Rod Ward: Healthcare Informatics Professor

Margaret's ePod: An Interview With Rod Ward: Healthcare Informatics Professor: "

Yesterday evening I participated in a short interview, conducted by Margaret Maag, via Skype using Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP), which she has now posted as a podcast on her blog.

The sound quality is not brilliant, however it was a useful test of the capabilities of the technology - and seeing as it was all free, we can't really complain.

Monday, September 19, 2005

EMR Blues

EMR Blues

Thanks to Dean Sittig at The Informatics Review for livening up my email inbox on a Monday morning by providing a link to this song "Might As Well Face It - Paper Won't Be Here Long" by Dr Sam & The Managed Care Blues Band, which could be retitled the EMR Blues.

I wonder how long before I hear this as the introduction to somebodies presentation?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

'Unworkable' smartcard rules to be re-written

'Unworkable' smartcard rules to be re-written

E-Health Insider carries this story about the "Acceptable Use Policy" which staff are required to sign to get a smartcard, which will allow them access to electronic patient data, being unworkable and needing to be rewritten after the issue of 65,000 cards.

Clinician involvement in Connecting for Health

Following an appeal, by NHS Connecting for Health, a couple of months ago for clinicans from the NHS to help the software development to support the National Programme for IT (NPfIT), I understand that applications have been received and next week the first 23 will be flying off to Seattle or India.

Their role is to help programmers ensure that the software which make up the National Clinical Records Service meets the needs and ways of working of staff within the NHS.

What is slightly worrying is how a group, exclusively made of of general practitioners (GPs), will be able to represent the myriad of clinical professions in the NHS?

Your Say - Department for Health

Your Say - Department for Health

The Department of Health have started a public consultation excercise using a web questionnaire to ascertain citizens views on:

1. How can people look after themselves? How can we help you take care of yourself and support you and your family in your daily lives?

2. When you and your family need help and support, how, when, where and from whom do you want to get it?

3. How can we help you get the right services, when you need them, and ensure your care and support is properly coordinated?

To the best of my knowledge this is the first time a central government department has used this sort of technology as part of a consultation excercise and it will be interesting to see how many people complete it - and whether any notice is taken of what they say.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

MIE2005 report

The Medical Informatics Europe conference for 2005 (MIE2005), the 19th International Congress of the European Federation for Medical Informatics, was held at the Uni-Mail Building of the University of Geneva in Geneva, Switzerland, on August 28-31, 2005. With the title/theme 'Connecting Medical Informatics and Bioinformatics', the event was organised by the Swiss Society of Medical Informatics on behalf of the European Federation for Medical Informatics (EFMI – )

The MIE2005 blog reports much of what went on; it was developed by myself and Karl Øyri, and uploaded at frequent intervals during the event, thanks to the wireless network available at the event, which generally worked very well (if a little overloaded at times) and was not dependent on specific browsers. The blog is at and contains several reports of paper sessions, keynotes, meetings, the social programme, and is illustrated by photographs taken by Karl and myself.

You should be able to access a fuller report from the attached file.

Peter J. Murray 14 September 2005


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Fujitsu signs with Cerner for South

Fujitsu signs with Cerner for South

E-Health Insider today carries the long awaited announcement that the contract has finally been signed between Fujitsu Services, which provides the Southern Cluster National Programme for IT for NHS Connecting for Health, and Cerner for the the anglicised version of its Millennium product that was originally developed for the Homerton and Newham hospitals in London.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Illegal online pharmacies put patients at grave risk

The Centre for Reform has just published a report Online Pharmacy: Patient Choice or Patient Peril which suggests a key area of concern is the growth of illegitimate practitioners who will despatch prescription medicines without requiring a prescription (or offering any advice or support) to any web-site applicant, and that there are significant amounts of sub-standard and sometimes counterfeit medicines being sold online.

The report, which was funded by Merck Sharp and Dohme Limited (a pharmaceutical company), argues that the Government should do more to balance this growth by enabling High Street pharmacies to offer a wider range of advice and help to their customers face-to-face and that the Government and online industry must go further with measures to suppress illegitimate web-sites, increase public awareness of the problem and minimise the stigma of approaching a GP for some medical conditions.

This potential "threat to public health", which is also responsible for most of the spam in my email inbox, does need to be addressed, but I have heard it argued that the easy and private access to drugs such as Viagra (erectile dysfunction), Phentermine (weight loss), Xenical (weight loss), Propecia (hair loss) and Adipex from an industry estimated to be worth £8.1 billion next year will not be easy to control.

Healthcare Information Technology Forum

Healthcare Information Technology Forum

This new web forum provides an opportunity for an international audience to exchange information about a wide range of Electronic Medical Record/Care Records System and other IT software products in use in health care.

There is also a section on standards and further developments are promised.

When I asked a question about the Cerner Millennium software planned by NHS Connecting for Health in the Southern Cluster of the National Programme for IT, I rapidly received several informed comments and suggestions from around the world suggesting likely delays in implementation and highlighting ongoing support issues.

A wide range of software is already being discussed, and suggestions of other topics for discussion are welcomed.

The front page of the site does seem to have a problem for those using the Firefox browser, however a work around for this has now been achieved.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Nat' Academies Press, Building a Better Delivery System: A New Engineering/Health Care Partnership (2005)

This new report Building a Better Delivery System: A New Engineering/Health Care Partnership by Proctor P. Reid, W. Dale Compton, Jerome H. Grossman, and Gary Fanjiang, has just been published as an open access ebook by The National Academies Press in Washington.

The committee argues that Research & Development should be supported in the following areas:
* Human-information/communications technology system interfaces
* Voice-recognition systems
* Software that improves interoperability and connectivity among systems from different vendors
* Software dependability in systems critical to health care delivery
* Secure, disperse, multiagent databases that meet the need of both providers and patients
* Measurement of the impact of information/communications systems on the quality and productivity of health care

Although there is an understandable US bias there are some useful comments about the current "cutting edge" in these areas and some suggestions about developments we may be seeing over the next few years.



Amongst my emails on returning from holidays was an invitiation to join Academici, this is a fairly new international global networking platform linking academics, academic-related associations, societies, academic services, students and academic-related business.

I'm still exploring some of the networking functions and forums, but it does eem to offer some easy ways to connect and communicate with others around the world working in similar areas. It has a strong elearning forum and newly created health informatics forum.

If you'd like to explore the functions and see what you think click on Academici and sign in.