Only 3,000 people sign up for £8m NHS internet project

Martin Beckford writes in the Daily Telegraph:

So far, 5million patients have had their sensitive health details, such as illnesses, vaccination history and medication taken, entered into an electronic Summary Care Record.

However the project had to be put on hold last year after public outcry that the records, feared to be vulnerable to hackers, were being uploaded without patients’ knowledge or consent, and a simpler opt-out system was introduced.

Under a linked plan, it was hoped that patients would sign up to HealthSpace, allowing them to look at their own records online as well as keep track of their weight, alcohol intake and hospital appointments.

But despite spending £8.03m on the scheme since 2007, the Department for Health admitted that by the end of January this year, just 2,971 patients had signed up for “advanced” accounts. This works out at a cost of £2,703 each.

Each user is said to have logged onto the system at least three times, and about 60 of them use it each month.

Of those who signed up, just 673 have actually looked at their medical record on HealthSpace, rather than using the other functions.

But only 10 out of England’s 151 Primary Care Trusts allow patients to use HealthSpace, and thousands of potential users gave up when confronted with the laborious registration process intended to allay security concerns.

Anyone who wants to sign up has to have a face-to-face meeting at a special registration office, where they must produce ID such as a passport along with two forms of proof of address.

Whitehall sources have indicated that a simple online registration process may now be introduced in order to encourage take-up of the scheme.