Education And Debate

Will improved clinical information help realise the new NHS?

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 24 January 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:298
  1. Jeremy C Wyatt, senior fellow in health and public policya
  1. a Health Knowledge Management Programme, School of Public Policy, University College London, London WC1E 7HN

    In 1995 the Audit Commission urged the NHS to revise its information systems, changing their goal from managing financial data to improving clinical information.1 In his foreword to the white paper Tony Blair promises “a new NHS information superhighway that links GP surgeries to any specialist centre in the country,” and we are invited to judge progress towards the new NHS by the efficiency of this highway and the NHS direct information service for the public. Suddenly, improved clinical information is central to modernising the NHS, facilitating integrated care, and ensuring that NHS organisations focus on quality and clinical accountability, or “governance.”

    The 1 shows the new information services and flows underlying the new NHS, the main innovations being the following.

    Proposed additional clinical information flows in the new


    NHS Direct patient information service—This help line should ensure a more informed public—a key feature of 21st century health care2 —by providing “immediate, convenient access to advice and information.” Free …

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