Further letter from Dr James Henry Paton,
Director of Clinical Informatics at Queens Hospital, Burton upon
Access to the internet in clinical facilities
has been steadily improving across the country with specific targets
having been set nationally for staff access. In Queen's Hospital,
for example, all staff have access to PCs in wards and offices,
and have access to, amongst much else, antibiotic prescribing
guidelines on our intranet and the internet.
There is still some way to go, however, in terms
of adequate PCs and satisfactory, reliable internet access in
the NHS workplace. The ratio of doctors to PC's, for example,
may still be too high in many facilities, and broadband access
to the internet is needed for all healthcare facilities.
While there is a vast amount of information
available now on the World Wide Web, a significant need of healthcare
staff is for easy access to structured, targeted information,
eg in infection monitoring and management. The National Electronic
Library for Health is a project of great vision for the NHS, and
its National Electronic Library for Communicable Diseases sub-library
has the potential to be a primary resource for clinical staff.
The latter library has made an excellent start, but to realise
its potential will require significant dedicated intellectual
resources and, therefore, a budget that is likely to be considerably
greater than at present.
3 April 2003
2 See oral evidence p 258. Back