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Boost to patient records cuts burden on NHS

27 December 2017

Increasing the amount of information held in electronic Summary Care Records is improving care and helping to ease winter pressures.

Every four seconds a health or care professional accesses a patient's Summary Care Record (SCR), which contains important details from GP medical records, such as their medication, allergies and adverse reactions, to support care.

Additional information, including long-term health conditions, medical history and immunisations can also be included in the SCR, if patients give their GP consent to share it.

This improves the quality of care and reduces the burden on the health service when it is under the greatest pressure, such as in winter, by saving time for patients and those treating them.

James Hawkins, Director of Digital Transformation and Engagement at NHS Digital, which developed the SCR, said: "This is an invaluable tool which 96 per cent of people now benefit from.

"Uploading additional information to the SCR increases its benefits and enables clinicians to provide the best care possible to patients as they have more details available at their fingertips.

"This also means patients won't have to repeatedly provide the same information, especially when they are feeling unwell, and this can help save time when health services are busy as well as potentially avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions."

Health or care professionals in England who are directly involved in a patient's care can access their SCR, such as pharmacists, out of hours GPs, hospital doctors and nurses. It is also available to ambulance service, 111 and Urgent Treatment Centre staff.

A new update to the Summary Care Record application, a web-based portal which allows health and care staff to search the NHS Spine for a patient and securely access their information, has made it easier to identify when additional information has been added to an SCR.

Dr Mark Spring, a GP at Sandford Surgery in Dorset and clinical lead for Urgent Care Services, a GP out of hours service, said: "As an out of hours GP, I know the importance of making sure essential patient information can be accessed. My patients don't just have problems from 'nine to five.' They need and deserve high quality, informed healthcare whenever it is required.

"Knowing details of a patient's medication and allergies is really useful. However, also knowing the reason for the medication and any significant medical history or diagnoses is quite simply invaluable. This is what the SCR can now provide.

"Creating SCRs with additional information is simple and very effective in supporting clinical management."

Enriched Summary Care Records in action

A busy mum-of-three has type 1 diabetes, complicated by neuropathy, eye disease and the early stages of kidney disease - the last thing she wants is to be admitted to hospital. Her GP practice identified that she could benefit from having additional information on her SCR, which she consented to. When out shopping one day, she feels weak and unwell and her friend takes her to A&E, where staff diagnose hypoglycaemia. Her enriched SCR contains information about her diabetes and contact details for her liaison nurse, who confirms that these episodes are not unusual. The patient's insulin dose is adjusted, and she doesn't need to be admitted to hospital.


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1. NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system. Our team of information analysis, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend. During the 2016/17 financial year, NHS Digital published 292 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.

2. The Summary Care Record (SCR) is an electronic record of important patient information, created from GP medical records. It can be seen and used by authorised staff in other areas of the health and care system involved in the patient's direct care.

3. Additional information on the SCR includes long term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart problems or rare medical conditions; relevant medical history - clinical procedures, current care and clinical advice to support future care; healthcare preferences such as special dietary requirements; personal preferences such as religious beliefs or legal decisions; immunisations - details of previous vaccinations, such as tetanus and routine childhood jabs. Specific sensitive information such as any fertility treatments, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy terminations or gender reassignment will not be included, unless the patient specifically asks for these to be included.

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