Electronic medical records get clean bill of health

Coalition government gives records plan a thumbs-up in England...
Written by Jo Best, Contributor on

Coalition government gives records plan a thumbs-up in England...

All NHS patients in England are to be offered their own electronic medical record after the coalition government concluded that digital summary care records (SCRs) provide vital information to medical staff in emergencies.

Reviews of the SCR project, commissioned by the Department of Health (DoH), concluded that the electronic records help ensure patients receive safe treatment when undergoing emergency or unplanned out-of-hours care.

The Labour government started the SCR scheme, with the aim of giving every patient in England an electronic record containing personal and medical data that practitioners anywhere could access.

hns summary care records

The DoH has backed the summary care records scheme
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

The rollout of the records system was put on ice earlier this year over concerns about whether patients understood they would automatically have an SCR created unless they chose to opt out.

In June, health minister Simon Burns stipulated records could only continue to be created in areas of England where it was felt patients understood that they had the ability to opt out of having an SCR created for them. No new letters were sent to patients informing them about the scheme.

According to the DoH, now the reviews are complete these letters will continue to be sent out and will inform patients of their right to opt out, as well as containing a pre-paid envelope to let the relevant authorities know of their decision.

For those who have already been contacted about the creation of a record in their name, there will be "awareness raising campaigns at local, regional and national levels" to let them know of their right to opt out, according to the DoH.

So far, 30 million people have been contacted about the scheme, with three million records already created.

The records will contain details on individuals' current medication, allergies and adverse reactions with other information "only added following the explicit consent of the patient", the DoH said.

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