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NHS 'Kitemark' for health-related apps to be introducedReuters

An NHS "kitemark" for health-related smartphone apps is to be introduced to encourage patients to access their healthcare records online.

The technological initiative is part of radical plans to make the NHS "paperless" by 2018 and a "world class showcase" of personalised healthcare.

Patients, for example, will be able to book appointments, organise repeat prescriptions or add their own comments to doctors' notes online.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said: "I want the NHS to be a world class showcase of what innovation can achieve. Today's plan sets out how we can give patients 21st century, personalised healthcare."

An NHS "kitemark" on health apps will make it safer for patients to manage their medical records via laptops or mobile phones.

Parents, for example, will be able to access records of their children's jabs and illnesses on smartphones instead of carrying around a "red book".

Tim Kelsey of NHS England said: "New mothers will now be able to carry their red book around with them on their smart phone and tablet as the NHS moves towards offering digital personal child health records.

While making patients' information more accessible for their direct medical care is one thing, making it available under 'commercial arrangement' for private profit is something else entirely."

Phil Booth from medConfidential campaign group said: "This will put an end to worrying about leaving your child's information at home when going for a review, vaccination, or emergency treatment."

Kelsey added: "When online banking started back in 1998 people were distrustful, now around 22 million adults use it. These kinds of changes don't just reduce costs, they also empower people, and allow them to take more control."