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Over half of NHS Trust heads expecting more Government money to foot entire cost of NHS paperless initiative


NHS workers positive about plans but see 2021 not 2018 most realistic goal for paperless NHS

London, UK –21st November 2013 – A study on the progress of the NHS paperless initiative released today has revealed the majority (82%) of heads of trust are expecting additional funding from the Government to become paperless with over half (60%) expecting them to foot the entire bill.

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These and other findings come from a new study commissioned by Perceptive Software from market researchers Vanson Bourne. They interviewed 200 NHS workers including heads of trusts, IT decision-makers and healthcare professionals between August and October 2013.

The research shows disparity between NHS trust heads and other key staff on the timetable for the paperless NHS initiative. Over half (54%) of heads of trusts believe being completely paperless by 2018 is a realistic goal compared to less than a fifth of IT decision makers and healthcare professionals.

A significant proportion of people surveyed expect the NHS to be “paper light” (the main place where patient records are stored) by 2018 and those who don’t see 2018 as a realistic goal for going paperless, suggest 2021 is, on average, a more genuine deadline. Out of those who haven’t already digitised 100% of patient data, over half (58%) think the process will take a further two to five years to roll out.

This caution about the timetable among NHS IT decision-makers and healthcare professionals contrasts with the goal of NHS going paperless by 2018 expressed by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

There are mixed opinions within NHS institutions about at what stage the UK’s NHS paperless initiative is today. NHS head of trusts reckon an average of over half (58%) of patients have digitalised records, while clinical staff think it’s almost two thirds (65%). By contrast, NHS IT staff, who should have the best view on the issue, believe it is much less than half (41%). 

Mark O’Herlihy, Healthcare Director EMEA, at Perceptive Software commented, “It’s very positive to see the initiative is being welcomed with open arms with over 9 in 10 NHS workers aware of it and the majority (71%) indicating their clear support. Too often in the past, NHS IT initiatives have split workers on their benefits so this bodes well for success as we progress past paperlight and paperless milestones.”

“Although there may be budget concerns and the need for better communication between heads of trusts and IT decision makers, we do need to be realistic, because it’s no mean feat digitising thousands upon thousands of medical files and processes within multiple departments and trusts across the country. Whether the end goal is 2018 or 2021, one hundred per cent of heads of NHS trusts believe digitising medical records will improve patient faith in the NHS. At a time when patient centric care is the upmost priority, it’s good to see that’s what our healthcare system is aiming for,” O’Herlihy added.

Almost all NHS workers see benefits in going paperless, with an average of six benefits being selected. Notably, half of all healthcare workers believe going paperless will have a positive impact on their department and two thirds think it will improve patient care.

Improvement in the ability to share records is the most commonly perceived benefit amongst all NHS workers (7 in 10). The majority of frontline staff, however, say the reduction in storage space, quicker access to data and reduction in the number of lost records as benefits – the hands-on, practicality of going paperless.


About Perceptive Software (
Lexmark’s Perceptive Software (NYSE: LXK) builds intelligent capture, content management, process management, enterprise search and integration products that connect the unstructured printed and digital information across enterprises with the processes, applications and people who need it most.

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