The BMA believes the roll-out of summary care records is happening too hastily and that it should be made easier for patients to opt out.
The summary care record provides limited key information about a patient’s health and history. The belief is that making this information accessible to a wide range of NHS services, when required, will improve patient care.
Following limited local piloting, five strategic health authorities have announced that summary care records are going to be uploaded to a central database across England.
Anyone who does not want to have a summary care record has to opt out by informing their GP or by completing a form either downloaded from the internet or requested through an ‘0845’ national call centre.
Dr Grant Ingrams, chair of the GP IT Committee, said: “The summary care record roll-out is now happening too hastily. While we believe it has the potential to improve both the quality and safety of patient care, we are concerned at the speed because it means patients are very unlikely to be aware of what they are automatically being enrolled into.”
“We would like to see it rolled out carefully area by area in a properly supported and evaluated fashion. This should ensure it improves patient care in the way it is intended to, whilst also protecting patient confidentiality.”
An independent evaluation of the pilots found that seven in ten patients didn’t not know what the summary care record was, so were not aware that their details would be uploaded onto a national database.
John May from the BMA’s patient liaison group said: “There needs to be a higher profile national information campaign to ensure everyone can make an informed choice about whether or not they want to be included.
“We also think it is important that opting-out is made easier. At the moment there’s no opt-out form in the patient information packs being sent to patients across the country. They either have to take the time out of their day to go and see their GP, or phone a call centre, or download a form from the internet and post it in.”