“More than any other health care system in the world, the NHS has the most comprehensive information on patient care for the whole population. Yet no one can fail to notice how NHS care in the UK lags behind other industries in how it uses information to inform and increase convenience for consumers.
"Now more than ever is the time to exploit the unique resource of NHS information to improve quality and efficiency, not least because of the economic squeeze.
"The Information Strategy is thus timely and welcome. But the question as ever is how to get faster action to deliver what is possible. National initiatives, such as the pledge to link a unique patient identifier (the NHS number) to all patient records collected by 2015, is crucial and should be backed up by a central capacity to analyse the data.
"Using information to improve care locally is the bigger task. This is made more challenging by the turbulence caused from the widespread reorganisation going on in the NHS resulting from the NHS and Social Care Act.
"Engaging doctors, managers and patients to innovate in this environment will be hard. But the need to take difficult decisions may actually speed up initiative. Rather than hope for the best, there will need to be central oversight to ensure needed progress is made and facilitated.”