Information governance is a major stumbling block to IT innovation and service integration, a Westminster Health Forum heard this week.

The seminar, held to inform policymakers in the UK and Europe, was told that the lack of a structured national model and differing rules in each primary care trust had hampered countless useful IT projects.

Jeremy Cummin, executive chairman of Telehealth Solutions, told the seminar: “In every single major implementation on which I have advised in the last ten years, information governance has been a major stumbling block. It has been used to put a block on spending.

“There is no structured model across the country and each PCT has its own set of rules.”

He went on: “When I work with two organisations with their own set of rules that are incompatible, I just have to sit back and wait while they have their inevitable bun fight. It is such a serious block on development and more importantly to cost savings.”

He said he could “find no way into the Department of Health” nor any interest in solving this problem. “[Health secretary] Andrew Lansley is not interested in this. He has other problems on his plate,” he said.

Helen Northall, chief executive of the Primary Care Commissioning Community Interest Company, said conflicting IG rules was a particular issue for private providers trying to work across primary and secondary care.

“Lining up governance systems with health systems is a major challenge,” she said. “I do not think it is good for patients.”

But Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, professor of primary care health at Barts and London School of Medicine and Dentistry, said this was not a problem that could be fixed nationally.

“The fact is that the more you spread data, the more you threaten privacy,” she said. This led to yet more guidelines from the Information Governance Board, patient groups and the Royal Colleges. “But they are not going to fix it because this is not fixable.”

She added: “Andrew Lansely is not interested but even if he was, he would be the last person to ask. This has to be localised.”