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Wednesday 23rd May 2018

Director general attacks IT critics

7th May 2007

The Department of Health's director general of IT has called critics of the electronic patient record "privacy fascists."

Richard Granger made the comments at the first hearing of a Commons health select committee inquiry into the system. He drew a comparison over concerns about patient confidentiality to an 1834 editorial in The Times, which had railed against the use of the stethoscope.

He stated: "People think they can assess the programme after researching it on Google. A number of people are whipping up anxiety - privacy fascists - who want to dictate that no-one has a right to information anywhere."

Mr Granger told the committee that the electronic patient record would be in wide use by 2010. He mentioned that some parts of the system were running two years behind schedule, because of changes to specifications and doctors being unable to agree about how it should function.

He refuted a suggestion by Labour MP Jim Dowd that these problems were an indication of defects in the initial plan, stating: "It would be a fantasy to imagine that halfway through a 10-year programme we would only be doing the same things we set out to do five years ago."

He rebuffed the idea of an independent technical review of the system, saying it had already been studied closely enough.

The committee talked about the arguments for and against patients being able to opt into the system, in contrast to Mr Granger's choice of opting out. He said only 0.1% of the population had chosen to opt out of pilot schemes around the UK.


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