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By | John Oates 4th January 2008 12:21

Cameron blames Labour naivety for NHS IT woes

We don't need NPfIT, we need Google

Tory leader David Cameron used a speech in Trafford yesterday to make another attempt to gain credibility for his party's management of the NHS.

He blamed the government for falling for the sales pitches of big IT providers and called for more local solutions to NHS IT problems.

Cameron said: "It's one of the most shameful and disgraceful aspects of Labour's record: the way they fall for the sales patter of the management consultants and the big IT firms, who make them think they can cut corners to success.

"Spend a few million on these consultants, they're told, a few billion on this computer project, and everything will be ok. Well, it isn't."

He said: "The NHS is suffering from the shoddy jargon-ridden schemes served up on PowerPoint and swallowed whole by the people who are supposed to be custodians of the health service and custodians of taxpayers' money." Cameron repeated his call for an NHS constitution - and welcomed Gordon Brown's support for the idea.

While we were told that the big IT providers were bad, Cameron did big up the role of his friends at Google: "Today Google has three million medical articles online, there for public viewing and easy searching - far more information than any doctor can carry in his head."

Cameron said much knowledge was being added by patients themselves - and "distributed horizontally from patient to patient".

It is this evolution, Cameron claimed, which undermines the need for a huge, central database of medical records.

Cameron said: "And it's this horizontal diffusion of knowledge that makes me so confident we can do better than the Government's proposal for a vast, centralised, NHS database. Surely, recent events have shown how dangerous government IT systems are - just think of the potential for disaster when everyone's health records are stored centrally."

The Tory leader added that records should be kept locally under the protection of the patient's GP.

The full speech is available here. ®

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