Scotland soars ahead26th April 2006
Just 200 miles away from Leeds and its ongoing battles over data accreditation, consent and technical capability, there lies a national database of GP summary records, accessible to emergency care workers and acceptable to clinicians and patients, says Fiona Barr in E-Health Insider.
The bad news for Connecting for Health is that the database is on the far side of the border and it is Scottish not English patients who are already benefiting from its existence.
While CfH plods towards the NHS Care Records Service, Scotland has taken an altogether more direct route towards making clinically useful information available from GP records.
The Emergency Care Summary (ECS) already holds records for 3.5 million patients and will hold records for all five million people in Scotland by June this year. The system is described as "small and not particularly fancy" but it is working and hasn't cost a billion pounds.
The ECS began life in 2003 when the introduction of the new GMS contract prompted the vast majority of GPs in Scotland to opt out of out of hours care. It was agreed that out of hours doctors would benefit from access to some basic patient information such as current medications, repeat medications and allergies plus basic demographics.
The next step forward is to allow access by NHS 24 call handlers, subject to explicit consent, as the health helpline has become the first point of contact for all NHS care out of hours. A further logical step would then be to allow accident and emergency departments access to the ECS data.
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