Summary Care Record – update

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There is much rejoicing here at Frontier Psychiatrist HQ as both parties in the new coalition government are committed to abandoning ID cards and the National Identity Register.  And that’s not all – the Contact Point Database is also toast.  Page six of the coalition agreement has actually brought a lump to my throat.

However the fight against intrusive and unnecessary state run databases is far from won.

Since I posted last about the Summary Care Record it’s become one of the most popular posts on this site.  Here is an update on what’s been going on.

As you may remember, the Summary Care Record is part of the NHS National Programme for IT.  It is a national database which makes health records available for healthcare staff to access wherever a patient needs treatment, regardless of where they live (so long they haven’t strayed into Scotland).

Given the vast number of people who will potentially be able to access healthcare records, there are issues surrounding the privacy of personal data held in this way.  Any benefits will be to a small number of people but for the vast majority the SCR it will make no improvement to their care.  Recruitment to the database is via a controversial ‘opt-out’ system and opting out appears to have deliberately been made difficult.

This year the government began to roll out the SCR across the country.  The BMA kicked up a stink, saying that patients were not sufficiently aware of what was going on.  The brakes were put on mid-April and the roll out was suspended.  Despite this, some primary care trusts were reported to be asking permission to continue uploading patient records.

On May 5 the BMA and the DoH signalled that they had come to an accommodation and released a statement.

Connecting for Health (CfH) and BMA have agreed that the upload of information to the Summary Care Record (SCR) should only take place in any practice once the practice and the primary care trust (PCT) agree that patients have been adequately informed about the process and properly enabled to opt out should they wish.

It remains to be seen what this actually means.  I maintain that the only reasonable way to populate a database of healthcare records is by informed consent.

As for the future: if the current trajectory is followed then there are plans for A&E discharge summaries and out-patient letters to be included.  A&E departments could also create for you your own SCR entry should you not have one, meaning those of us who do not wish to be ‘opted in’ will need to be constantly on guard.

But the SCR’s future under the new government is uncertain.   The coalition document does not mention the SCR, but it is thought that the Conservatives are hostile to the NPfIT and will cancel the portions of it not yet completed.

Links

Here’s a reasonable summary of the SCR in the Mail

And another article in the Mail.  I don’t care for its tone, but it’s on the right track

Wikipedia has the basics

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2 Responses to “Summary Care Record – update”

  1. graham says:

    This is all very interesting as a UK pharmacist who has recently gone to work in New Zealand. Where I can access electronic secondary care notes, letters to primary care physicians, radiology, pathology and lab reports and discharge letters to the aforementioned GPs.

    Are people’s privacy threatened by increasing the information available to a wider array of health care professionals? Is the sky falling?

    Hear that silence.

    On the flip side of hyperbole I’ve been able to avoid a number of adverse events caused by the well known effects of communicating (badly) across the primary/secondary care interface when care passes between the two.

    This is often known as being admitted into and being discharged from hospital.

    It’s so well known, common and hazardous that the UKs National Patient Safety Agency and NICE introduced standards for UK hospitals to follow.

    Examples including alerting my prescribing medical colleagues to a quadruple overdose of an antidiabetic medication they had prescribed; correcting an over dose of lamotrigine (and possibly avoiding a very serious side effect) as well as numerous instances of missing/added/duplicated medicines cock ups.

    Sharing information reduces morbidity and saves lives.

    Your choice.

    ;-)

  2. Sad says:

    Given the horrible prejudice I experienced at a women’s hospital once they discovered I was mentally ill, I wouldn’t want anyone except my GP to know about my mental health problems. Fortunately my GP and all his associates and trainees treat me with respect, which is a precious commodity when you’re mentally ill. Tell any other bit of the NHS that you have a psychotic disorder and they just think you’re imagining everything, regardless of what the test results say.

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