Conclusions Drawn from the LMSG 1999 meetings on Implementation of the NHS Information Strategy

Thursday 20 January 2000

The Board Room, Moorfields Eye Hospital, City Road, London, EC1V 2CD


David Hancorn

The meeting was conducted in two parts. In the first, Neville Vincent reviewed the LMSG meetings that had taken place in 1999 under the generic topic chosen for the year 'MAKING THE STRATEGY WORK'. This was followed by a look into the future entitled 'WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?', facilitated by David Hancorn.

The meeting covered a wide range of topics and viewpoints, but there was general agreement that, although Information for Health is a worthy and highly visionary strategy, its implementation is likely to take much longer than anticipated and it is in danger of being thrown off course by the ever changing agenda of the NHS.

Subjects discussed were very wide ranging; for convenience, they have been divided into a number of different areas below.

Reference was made to views expressed by previous speakes including Dr Simon de Lusignan, Dr Ewan Davies, Murray Bywater, Dr Anthony Madden, Michael Rigby, Professor Louis Smidt, Dr Humphrey Gyde, Dr John Navein, Dr Simon Wallace and Dr Robertson, from the National Audit Office.

Observations were then recorded under the following headings:

  • political agenda;
  • culture, people and values;
  • organisational change;
  • communications infrastructure;
  • collaborative working through integration;
  • technology;
  • funding and procurement; and
  • barriers and risks.

David Hancorn drew the following conclusions from the discussion:

The current realities regarding the political imperatives and organisational stability provide an insight into the main barriers to Information for Health. It is unrealistic to expect organisations to put the necessary resource into developing the strategy when new structures have yet to be put in place, and where the first requirement for new management must be its financial and administrative controls. In addition, the NHS is awash with initiatives and new targets which it has to meet. This forces people to think only in the short term and the effort and resource required to implement a challenging and visionary strategy will simply not be there.

It could be argued that the present circumstances are so dire that, at least in the short term, better information is unlikely to be of much benefit in any case. Have we moved forward since December 1998, when the strategy was published? And if so, in which direction?

The full text of this report is available to LMSG members. Please contact Neville Vincent ( for details.

The discussion will continue at the LMSG Satellite session at HC2000. The theme is 'NHS Information Strategy - Matching the Vision to Reality'. The meeting will take place in the Ripley Suite from 11.30 am to 1.00 pm on Wednesday 22 March 2000. David Hancorn will be the facilitator and there will be two further invited speakers to set the scene. The main purpose will be to encourage audience participation. Only conference delegates may attend. LMSG members and guests may register as half-day delegates.