Lord Hunt, the health minister with responsibility for IT, has underlined his determination that the NHS will achieve its targets on electronic records and spoken of the damage caused by the previous government’s “awful failures” in technology.

Speaking to the British Journal of Health Care Management Lord Hunt said, “We will get there and I mean WILL, because there is no way that the NHS Plan targets can be delivered without doing so. That’s the good news: we’ve made huge progress in the past five years.”

He said, “The previous government’s awful failures with IT implementations and big scale projects caused a wholesale loss of confidence, and of local and clinical engagement.

“That’s been turned round now. When I meet people on the ground locally, they are asking us to get on with it. There’s no resistance: they want it.”

He pointed to the success of NHS Direct and the achievement of connecting 98% of GPs to NHSnet as evidence of success for the 1998 strategy, Information for Health.

He outlined three keys to further success:
• National standards are needed that must be explicit and must come from the centre;
• More investment is needed. “We must find the money and the service must find the money too. It’s striking how many trusts still lack a proper information strategy,” said Lord Hunt.
• Much more local co-operation is needed. Local information systems have got to be built. Strategic Health Authorities will take the lead and performance manage IT.