NHS funding derived directly from national taxation has won worldwide recognition as one of the most reasonable and least costly way of public healthcare funding. While the NHS services are run separately in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland by their respective administrations, the overall supervision in England is done by the country's 10 Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) that in turn are controlled by the Department of Health (source: www.nhs.uk).
Measuring performance efficiency of a healthcare system is difficult and the same applies to NHS also. However, the broad indicators like the declining infant mortality rate and the increasing life expectancy in the UK point to significant contribution by the NHS to the nation's healthcare. The NHS does not charge its patients except for some specialised services for optical and dental treatments and for some prescriptions. The patient is treated irrespective of the country of the UK he or she is resident of. The patient is not hassled with procedural matters.
One of the major information management issues being faced by the NHS is timely implementation of its National Programme for IT which is one of the world's largest IT projects. The rising cost far exceeding the original budget of 2.3 billion for the project and delayed implementation are seriously impeding full-scale launch of the initiatives at the NHS. The initiatives include controlled use of sensitive medical data and management of patient information security. For improving and integrating quality healthcare services, available medical information and data are needed to be recorded and made available in a proper way to the healthcare professionals. The present information management programmes of the NHS are drawing criticisms on the issues of too rigid a control of the sensitive medical data and inadequacy of patient information security. Computerization of the complete records of the NHS patients is another issue to be fully resolved. Another important information management issue involves lending assistance to the patient to select location for treatment by the "Choose and Book" programme under National Programme for IT. The facility is yet to be made available at all locations even after expiry of the various deadlines causing considerable cost overrun.
Quality of delivery of service and care for the patients and the planning for such delivery require setting up of a strong information management system maintaining record of health information and data that the health professionals of the NHS can extract, interpret and apply. This recorded information and data of the patients treated by the organisation remain the best sources of guidelines for the future healthcare requirements. The NHS professionals need to access this record online for updating their information base to provide the best healthcare. Understanding of the healthcare process under different settings like hospitals and public health
services can be facilitated by a sound information management system.
Intertwined with information management is the information governance, a set of standards with professional and legal obligations that the NHS is obliged to follow to ensure complete and accurate