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Summary Care Record mailings to patients resume

31st March 2011

Mailings have resumed to thousands of patients in England about the introduction of the Summary Care Record (SCR) following last year’s review of the record. The new packs contain a simplified letter and an opt out form with a pre-paid envelope to make it easier for patients to exercise choice as recommended by the review.

The review, commissioned by Health Minister Simon Burns, agreed last October that an SCR containing core patient information; medications, allergies and adverse reactions, will prove valuable for patients needing emergency or urgent care. Additional information will only be added to the record with the patient's explicit consent, giving patients greater control over their healthcare.

Mailings to patients were paused while the review into the content of the SCR and the information patients receive was underway. Strategic Health Authorities and Primary Care Trusts in England continue to work with GP practices to ensure that records are created for those patients who wish to have one, acknowledging their contribution to safer emergency care. 

Health Minister, Simon Burns, said:

“Having achieved a consensus about the Summary Care Record’s potential to improve patient safety, it is important that we press on and ensure its introduction.  The letter going out to patients is clear about the choices you have and by including an opt out form, we are emphasising our commitment to making it easy for patients to exercise that choice.  As the NHS modernises, the SCR’s value will grow because it ensures that clinicians from urgent and emergency care providers will have crucial medical information at their fingertips.”


Charles Gutteridge, National Clinical Director for Informatics, said:


“The information which patients, doctors and nurses have agreed should be included in the SCR could be critical in some circumstances.  Out of hours doctors in areas which have already created a majority of patient Summary Care Records are reporting how helpful they are in terms of providing safe and effective patient care.  The more clinicians are exposed to the SCR, the more value they give it.  I believe that in a few years time we will be astonished that we used to provide emergency care without this fundamental back-up.”


Susan Hamer, Director for Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals, said:


“Nurses who are leading out of hours care or working in the community have told us how useful the core information contained in the Summary Care Record is for preventing errors.  It means we can avoid adding to the stress of elderly or confused patients who are asked to remember their medication when they need urgent care.  A modern NHS should make sure this information is available to all those providing healthcare.”

Kieran Mullan from the Patients Association said:

“The Summary Care Record has the potential to offer great benefits for patients by making key information available to clinicians treating patients in emergencies. It is also right that other useful information such as end of life care plans can be added to the record, but that this only happens at the explicit request of the patient.

“Our helpline has heard from patients who have been unhappy with aspects of the roll out of the record, which makes it vital that information and choice is maximised in the future. We support the inclusion of an opt-out form in the information pack sent to patients and the extra safeguard of clinicians checking that a patient is happy to have a Summary Care Record before it is used for the first time.”

 

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