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NHS stalls electronic record system rollout

Following concerns raised in a report evaluating a trial rollout of the system, the NHS has decided to call a halt while it takes stock of criticisms
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

The NHS has pledged to halt the further rollout of its electronic patient record system while it takes stock of criticisms in a report.

A report evaluating the trial rollout of the Summary Care Record (SCR) system highlighted concerns that the system was clunky, interfaces poorly with other systems and was being foisted upon patients without their full knowledge.

Connecting for Health (CfH), the NHS body responsible for delivering the £12.7bn overhaul of NHS IT including SCR, says the system will not be rolled out until an advisory group reviews any changes that are needed in light of the report.

The University College London report found that about 610,000 patients had been approached about being placed on the system in the four trial areas it looked at and that while most staff were broadly enthusiastic, SCR was widely seen as too complex and that some had given up on using it "until it works better".

There was resentment among some staff that CfH had forced a tightly managed timetable on the primary care trusts for implementing SCR "despite the immaturity of the technical solutions".

A spokeswoman for CfH admitted that one GP's surgery had given up on using the system.

She said: "SCR will continue to be implemented in the early adopter areas, although they will not be rolled out beyond these areas until the Summary Care Record Advisory Group has considered the findings of the report and decided what, if any, changes need to be made to the SCR programme."

The British Medical Association says the SCR breaches confidentiality, as under the current system patients' details are included unless they opt out, and it backs the report's recommendations to change the ability to opt out.

A spokesman said in a statement: "We support the recommendation to move to a 'consent to view' system which would meet much of the concern about informed consent expressed by doctors and gives patients appropriate control of their personal data.

"We would strongly urge that until these changes are made there should be no further rollout of the scheme beyond the pilot sites."

The NHS has also confirmed that it is still renegotiating a contract worth about £3bn with CSC to deliver parts of the £12.7bn IT overhaul.

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