BMA questions restructuring of NHS data access and availability

Following the news that the UK government is planning to instigate significant reforms to the way in which the NHS makes data available to patients and practitioners, the British Medical Association (BMA) has spoken out over its concerns that the current IT infrastructure will be unable to keep pace with the required changes.

A period of consultation by the government led to the germination of the movement that is set to see English patients being given open access to channels which will facilitate individual control over medical records. This is set to go as far as allowing members of the public access to private data which they can then share with others as they see fit.

The BMA released a statement in which it said that it recognises the need for better implementation of the vast amounts of data controlled by the NHS. It expressed reservations about whether the current IT systems will be able to support the liberalisation of patient data and said that with government cuts there might not be enough cash available to make the necessary improvements.

The statement from the BMA claims that organisations within the NHS could not hope to match the ambitions of the government, even in light of the large monetary injections made by the former administration.

It appreciates that cuts have to fall somewhere but argues savings in IT will create a discrepancy between what is required of the NHS and what it is able to deliver.

BMA spokesperson, Chaand Nagpaul, who is also a GP, said that the NHS has a mountain to climb and that it would have to rely on the current infrastructure if it was to enable members of the public to access data in the proposed manner, as the age of austerity limits the chances of spending being put towards improvements.

The security of allowing such freedom of movement for patient data is also a concern of the BMA and it would seek to see greater measures installed, to ensure that misappropriation, loss and theft of private details are unlikely to occur.

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