Technology (Savings)

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 26th February 2013.

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Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns Conservative, Vale of Glamorgan 11:30 am, 26th February 2013

What recent estimate he has made of the potential savings to the NHS of making better use of technology.

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that the NHS could save £4.4 billion every year through proper investment in IT, which is one of the reasons I set the NHS the challenge of becoming fully paperless by 2018.

Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns Conservative, Vale of Glamorgan

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for his answer, but can he assure me that investment in new technology will release resources for patient care, rather than follow the pattern over the past 15 years, when investment in new technology has detracted from the available resources?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

My hon. Friend makes an important point. In encouraging such investment, we are thinking about the nurse who recently reported that in order to admit someone to trauma she had to fill out a 22-page admission form and another 10 forms after that. The whole point of this move is to free up the time of professionals on the front line so that they can spend more time with patients.

Photo of Tom Greatrex Tom Greatrex Shadow Minister (Energy)

The Secretary of State will be aware that the general practice extraction service contract has recently been awarded to French IT firm Atos Healthcare. Given the concerns expressed by the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office about the way in which Atos has performed in respect of other contracts let by the Government, what has the Secretary of State got in mind to ensure that there are safeguards for patient data under the general practice extraction service contract?

Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt The Secretary of State for Health

With respect to all IT contracts, all I will say is that we have learned a great deal from the mistakes made by the previous Government.