Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Editorials at 20 years

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 26 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2821

Rapid Response:

Could the NHS ever emulate the BMJ this century?

The justifiably proud record of the BMJ in embracing 21st-century IT to optimise its availability to a worldwide audience, in so many aspects of medical news and research, stands in stark contrast to the woeful experience of so many NHS practitioners in their day jobs. The fragmentation of IT systems within hospitals, between hospitals and the community (including hospices) and between hospitals only a few miles apart have caused endless frustrations to those of us trying to provide a 'seamless' service to patients. Patients on the receiving end, often with their state-of-the-art smartphones at the ready, cannot begin to understand why we still have to phone GP surgeries, send 2nd-class letters, write prescriptions on paper pads, and have no idea of the results of tests they have already had done at St Elsewhere's. If private businesses employed similar archaic IT systems, they would collapse within weeks.
The need for 24/7 health service access would be dramatically reduced if NHS IT systems were aligned nationwide. This would give beleaguered A+E staff a realistic prospect of doing what they are meant to do - seeing genuine accidents and emergencies. And maybe doctors would not be so desperate to retire early or emigrate . Could David Payne and the IT whizzes at the BMJ help their colleagues at the NHS coalface?
BMJ 2015;350:h2767

Competing interests: No competing interests

29 May 2015
Mary Tighe
Retired Associate Specialist
22 Holway Avenue, Taunton TA1 3AR