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Care Record battle by the seaside

By Steve Nowottny

The latest skirmish in the battle to get GPs on board with the Summary Care Record took place in an anonymous PCT building on the outskirts of Bournemouth last week.

Pulse was at the event, where 20 local GPs, practice managers and PCT staff heard a presentation from Connecting for Heath aimed at winning hearts and minds.

The event began with a slick Powerpoint presentation, complete with video clips from the first early adopter site in Bolton. Over an uplifting soundtrack, Dr Julie McMillen declared the scheme was working well.

Mike Davis, from the Connecting for Health's national team, said response from patients so far had been largely positive. Of around 500,000 patients who had received letters warning them their records would be uploaded, just 0.59% had opted out.

‘I've been out there with my clipboard,' Davis said. ‘They are very au fait with this.'

Then the questions started. Will patients be able to give consent for record sharing verbally? Should GPs expect an influx of concerned patients? If a patient is labelled at risk, will that be reflected in the Summary Care Record? Dr Andrew Polkinghorn, a GP in Verwood in Dorset was concerned about ‘the bane of my life' – NHS smartcards.

A PCT staff member argued that despite some problems over speed and security, smartcard use was improving.

An hour and a half later, the meeting over, Dr Jon Orrell, the GP in Weymouth leading the project locally, declared the evening a success, praising some ‘very intelligent questions.'

Dr Polkinghorn was less convinced: ‘Don't get me wrong, I think the concept as a whole is brilliant,' he said. ‘But there are a lot of potential difficulties.'

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