Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has pledged to spend £4 billion over the next five years on new technology to help create paperless healthcare services.
He claimed that electronic-based patient health systems will help doctors make faster diagnoses and improve patient quality of life. The investment will build on the £1 billion already set aside in the Autumn Statement for growing technology adoption within the NHS.
"We know that proper investment in IT – it's not without its pitfalls – can save time for doctors and nurses and means they can spend more time with patients,” Hunt told the BBC. He added that the cash will help ‘ease pressure on the frontline and create stronger relationships between doctor and patient’.
The new paperless system will enable patients to book services and order prescriptions online, as well as speaking to a doctor online or via a video link. The NHS claim that this will be achieved in part by 2018 and in full by the end of the decade.
The full details of the breakdown of the £4 billion pledge have yet to be released, but it is expected to include £1.8 billion to remove out-dated paper-based systems, with £1 billion being spent to bolster cyber security.
£750 million will be set aside to improve out-of-hospital care and around £400m for creating an nhs.uk website, healthcare apps and for free Wi-Fi across the NHS estate.