Headlines: November 3rd, 2003

Sixteen million pounds is to be made available to improve access to information technology for NHS staff in Wales and to improve the public’s access to information on their healthcare options. The announcement is part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s response to a review of health and social care, which is due to be discussed this week.The funding has been allocated to take forward the “Informing Healthcare Strategy” in line with the recommendations made in the review by Derek Wanless. The Assembly Government’s response will be discussed at the Health and Social Services Committee on Wednesday and by the whole assembly later this month. Welsh Health Minister Jane Hutt said the money was being made available to meet the need to improve access through information technology to learning and knowledge for all staff which was highlighted in the review.

“Efficient and high levels of technology support health and social care services which in turn releases staff to spend more time with patients and provides valuable information for decision-making,” she said.

Denis Jessopp, who leads the Informing Healthcare Strategy Implementation Programme Board, said it was a continuing programme that would grow quickly over the next few years. It would enable the health service to modernise and innovate without being held back by poor information. At the same time patients would have much more knowledge about and control of their conditions and treatments.

The Welsh Assembly Government’s response to the health and social care review is available online at www.wales. gov.uk