Letter: Computers in the NHS: compatibility, communications and confidentiality

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The Independent Online
Sir: In your leading article 'Prescribing the right computer' (4 May) you ask the question, what do GPs hope to achieve by buying computers? The answer, in part, lies in why many small businesses buy computers: to provide a word processor for legible prescriptions and letters, a database for research, epidemiology and achieving targets.

In the new GP contract, GPs are paid a figure each quarter for hitting targets in smears and vaccinations. The difference between achieving 89 per cent and 91 per cent is considerable and GPs need to know who the defaulters are for whatever reason.

You state 'computers that do not communicate are useless', yet that communication you hope for poses great threats to the confidentiality of the doctor-patient relationship, and GPs who break confidentiality find themselves in breach of their terms of service.

GPs as independent contractors within the NHS are wise to choose

a system that suits their needs

and not the expectations of remote managers.

Yours sincerely,

MALCOLM STONE

Andover,

Hampshire

4 May

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