One of the proposals outlined in the White Paper - 'The New NHS - Modern, Dependable', was that of connecting all GPs to the NHS Net.
The Government announced that £150million would be spent to bring GPs' IT systems up to a national quality standard and to pay for the NHS Net connections. Patients will benefit from quicker test results, up-to-date specialist advice in the doctor's surgery and on-line booking of hospital appointments.
By the end of 1999, all computerised GP surgeries will be able to receive some hospital tests over the NHS Net. By 2002, it is planned:
- GPs will have the latest specialist advice on medical and drug treatments online because they can access, for example, the findings and guidance of the new National Institute for Clinical Excellence. (See Chapter New NHS - The White Paper.)
- administrative procedures will be speeded up and made more efficient.
- GPs will be able to share information and disseminate good practice throughout the country.
- Other possibilities include connecting GPs with pharmacies to speed up medicine prescriptions and developing the potential of telemedicine.