In general, while the NHS services are run separately in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland by their respective administrations, the overall supervision in England is done by the country’ s 10 Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) that in turn are controlled by the Department of Health (source: www. nhs. uk ). Measuring the performance efficiency of a healthcare system is difficult and the same applies to NHS also. However, the broad indicators like the declining infant mortality rate and the increasing life expectancy in the UK point to a significant contribution by the NHS to the nation’ s healthcare.
The NHS does not charge its patients except for some specialised services for optical and dental treatments and for some prescriptions. The patient is treated irrespective of the country of the UK he or she is a resident of. The patient is not hassled with procedural matters. One of the major information management issues being faced by the NHS is a timely implementation of its National Programme for IT which is one of the world’ s largest IT projects. The rising cost far exceeding the original budget of ₤2.3 billion for the project and delayed implementation is seriously impeding full-scale launch of the initiatives at the NHS.
The initiatives include the controlled use of sensitive medical data and management of patient information security. For improving and integrating quality healthcare services, available medical information and data are needed to be recorded and made available in a proper way to the healthcare professionals. The present information management programmes of the NHS are drawing criticisms on the issues of too rigid a control of the sensitive medical data and inadequacy of patient information security.
Computerization of the complete records of the NHS patients is another issue to be fully resolved. Another important information management issue involves lending assistance to the patient to select a location for treatment by the “ Choose and Book” programme under the National Programme for IT.
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