Watch out over the next few months for information from your LURG (Local User Representative Group) and LCMG (Local Communications Management Group) for progress on the implementation of the NHSnet. You will no doubt all be aware of the keen interest taken by the BMA in the security aspects of increasing electronic communication around the NHS. There have been several papers in the past on this very subject in this Journal also. There are many pressures pushing us all towards getting on-line, including less paperwork and better and quicker communication with our secondary care colleagues, but hey, let's be careful out there!
A useful spinoff from the NHSnet, of course, is the saving to be made on mobile phones and pagers - call NHSnet Infoline on 0121 625 3838.
The EU Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the "Protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data" was adopted on 24th October 1995. Member states are required to expedite its provisions and national legislation implementing the Directive must be in place by 24th October 1998 at the latest. The main thrust of the Directive is similar to that of the Data Protection Act 1984. Consultation documents are available from the Data Protection Registrar.
Personal Health Data: "The contract for operating the NHS-wide clearing system containing identifiable personal health data provided by patients and health professionals for the purpose of medical treatment does not allow the marketing of personal health data. Security policy and safeguards will prevent the release of such data to third parties. Services providing analyses of personal health data will only be provided to the NHS organisations which are registered data users.
From a Reuter report on 10th June: UK to license information encryption services: The British government unveiled proposals aimed at meeting the demand for encryption services to safeguard the confidentiality of electronic information transmitted on public telecommunications networks. Technology minister Ian Taylor published a paper proposing a licensing system for so-called "Trusted Third Parties", or TTPs, to provide encryption services. including digital signature, data integrity and retrieval, and key management services. The Trade and Industry Department said increased use of IT systems by British business and commerce was a major factor in their improved competitive position, but had brought increased security risks - especially concerning integrity and confidentiality of information passed electronically between trading bodies. Prime candidates to be TTPs could include banks, network operators (BT Syntegra?) and trade associations (the BMA?).
Two 'trailblazer' projects are in progress, implementing links between GPs and radiology, pathology, referrals and discharges. Two members of the PHCSG (Dr John Williams and Dr Jon Rogers) are advising on these projects. More information from Anne Sutcliffe, Project Director, 0113 254 6266.
The contract for testing and accredition of GP computer systems for the Requirements for Accreditation and GP Fundholding Systems Specification was awarded to the FHS Computer Unit, in competition with three other shortlisted companies. The contract also covers the development of an integrated test pack to support the introduction of a unified specification for GP computer systems which will be released later this year. Details of the testing programme can be obtained from Yvonne Andrews, FHS Computer Unit, Exeter, Tel 01392 78315.