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November 8, 2006

Information Technology in the English National Health Service

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: King's Fund (Dr Chantler); Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (Mr Clarke); and Department of Health (Mr Granger), London, England.

JAMA. 2006;296(18):2255-2258. doi:10.1001/jama.296.18.2255

In 2002, the British government announced the largest sustained spending growth in the history of the National Health Service (NHS), with total UK health spending increasing from 7.7% of gross domestic product to 9.4% over 5 years (from 2002-2003 to 2007-2008).1 A key driver for this massive increase in expenditure was the need to make more effective use of information technology (IT), the costs of which were estimated to increase to 4% of the total budget. Over 10 years, this would amount to an investment of approximately £18 billion (US $32 billion) for all NHS IT expenditure, a subcomponent of which is the investment in the national program. This program is intended to connect 36 000 general practitioners (primary care physicians) in more than 8000 practices and 270 acute hospitals, community, or mental health organizations in England with a national information system.2 It does not cover Scotland, Northern Ireland, or Wales.