Headlines: November 13th, 2003

The importance of listening to advice from health informatics professionals to ensure the NHS is a world-class health system will be underlined at a conference later this month. The message will be delivered by Professor Alastair Bellingham, Chairman of the NHS Information Authority, at the national NHS ICT & Informatics Conference in London.He will tell delegates that the key is to provide quality and intelligent information to both patients and healthcare professionals. The conference will also see the launch of a new national patient safety campaign by Clive Flashman of the National Patient Safety Agency. The campaign will explore how intelligent information is essential for planning, implementing and sharing information in a way that does not compromise patient safety.

Organisers of the one day conference say it will provide an opportunity for delegates to learn, network and contribute ideas on improving patient care through interactive exhibitions, live toolkit demonstrations and the chance to register for informatics related communities of practice.

The Information Authority has already announced that Information to help patients decide which hospital is most likely to meet their needs will be added to the NHS website –  http://www.nhs.uk . Patients without Internet access will be able to telephone NHS Direct to get the same information. The website will give details of waiting times, convenience factors (such as parking, local transport, etc), patient experience and clinical reputation.

Over the coming months consultations will take place with health professionals and patients to gather together the additional information needed to make it easier for patients and their GPs to choose the hospital and consultant that best meets their needs for elective surgery.

Delegates to the NHS ICT & Informatics Professionals Conference, which is a free event, will have the opportunity to hear a number of key speakers from the NHS and health informatics specialists including an update from the National Programme for IT. Two parallel panel sessions will run alongside the main event. The first will be chaired by Dr Jem Rashbass discussing facilitating data quality in primary care and the second will be chaired by Phil Walker of the Department of Health, and will look at information governance and quality assurance.