Tories look to web-based health records

06 Jul 2009 View Comments
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David Cameron
David Cameron has repeatedly criticised state-run databases

The Conservatives are examining plans to store electronic health records on Google or Microsoft web-based systems, instead of a central database, according to a report in The Times.

Under Labour's £12.7bn NHS National Programme for IT, electronic patient records would be held in a central system and accessed by clinical staff from different locations.

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But the care records service is progressing slowly and is not due to be completed until 2014 – four years late.

The Tory plan would allow users to choose from a range of private sector web sites, possibly including those operated by Bupa, the healthcare provider, as well as Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault services, says the report.

In a speech in April, David Cameron advocated such a scheme instead of a central state-run database.

"People can store their health records securely online, they can show them to whichever doctor they want. They’re in control, not the state," he said.

"A web-based version of the government’s bureaucratic scheme, services like Google Health or Microsoft Health Vault, cost virtually nothing to run."

The Conservatives have asked the British Computer Society to review the NHS IT programme and it will report later this summer.

David Cameron is widely reported to be wary of state collection of data and sensitive to the privacy debate on how much of individuals' information the state should hold.

A senior Tory source told The Times: “This is an agenda we are massively keen on. We’re thinking about how in government the architecture of technology needs to change, with people ‘owning’ their own data, including their health records.”

The Conservative's press office declined to comment.

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