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40 million people now have a summary care record

Plans to roll out records to GP out-of-hours services and A&E

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 31 July 2014

A record 40 million patients now have an electronic summary care record, according to new figures published today by NHS England.

NHS England said the number – almost two thirds of the UK population – was a “milestone” and meant health professionals were using the records to improve and speed up patient care.

The summary care record (SCR) is an electronic record containing information about patients including allergies, medications and adverse reactions, which is pulled from GP systems and which can be viewed by health professionals involved in a patient’s care.

The benefit of having this information stored in one place, says NHS England, is that it makes it easier for healthcare staff to treat patients in an emergency, or when their GP practice is closed.

The SCR is one of the key projects of the National Programme for IT in the NHS and despite initial scepticism from the public and health professionals around consent and confidentiality, it is now been proving to be a fast and effective system for patients, said NHS England.

Initially, privacy campaigners and medical groups raised concerns that patients were not sufficiently informed about the creation of the first, national database of patient records, and that they should opt-in rather than out.

The SCR was approved by the present government on an opt-out basis.

In July of last year, it was expanded to include patients’ end-of-life care information, immunisations, and significant past problems and procedures.

Usage of the SCR has risen and clinicians are viewing them more than 19,000 times a week or once every 30 seconds, said NHS England, which added that it was now focused on rolling it out in GP out-of-hours services, A&E, and NHS 111.

Beverley Bryant, director of strategic systems and technology at NHS England, said: “The value of summary care record is being seen in a number of care settings with viewing volumes now growing quickly on the back of the great progress in making records available. This in turn is driving the main objectives, which are improvement in patient care and efficiencies in the NHS.

“Clinicians across all care settings are keen to use the SCR because they can see it is working for them giving them succinct, easy to access information about their patients. It speeds up their work, makes the process much easier and prevents the patient having to repeat the same information several times.”

GP practices will be required to provide an automated upload of their summary information to the SCR – or have published plans in place to achieve this – by the end of March 2015.

The new GP contract also requires GPs to give patients online access to the information held in the SCR by the same date.

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