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Government to scrap patient website to access electronic records

The Department of Health will close its flagship site to offer patients access to their electronic records in the next 12 months, as it is too ‘difficult' for patients to use.

The DH said it will be winding down the HealthSpace website, which allows patients to access their Summary Care Record, over the next 12 months.

GPs have claimed that this represents the first sign the Government is planning to phase out the SCR, but a DH spokesman denied this was the case.

The decision comes in the wake of the NHS Information Strategy, released last week,that revealed plans to create ‘a comprehensive online portal', bringing together NHS Choices, NHS Direct online, NHS 111 and, the soon-to-be decommissioned, HealthSpace.

Pulse reported in November last year that just 3,119 people had registered for an advanced account, and 182,000 for a basic account, on the HealthSpace system since 2009, despite a project target of four million people using the system by 2014.

Speaking at a Westminster Forum event in London, Dr Charles Gutteridge, the national clinical director for informatics at the Department of Health, told the audience that the technology on HealthSpace was inadequate.

‘It is too difficult to make an account. It is too difficult to log on. It is just too difficult,' he said.

Dr Paul Cundy, chair of the GPC IT committee, said: ‘The reason they stopped HealthSpace is no-one wanted it and no-one needed it.'

The end of HealthSpace could signal the winding down of the SCR scheme, he added.

‘The SCR is an expensive white elephant. It has cost a lot of money and no-one is using it.'

Dr Neil Bhatia, a GP in Hampshire, said there was no mention of Summary Care Records in the Government's Information Strategy and the end of HealthSpace will lead to SCRs being wound down.

He said: ‘It's never going to be a priority for CCGs. I doubt whether they are going to commit money and effort to SCR. It will almost certainly be overtaken by the likes of EMIS access,' he added.

DH spokesperson said: ‘The creation of Summary Care Records and their use to improve patient safety in out-of-hours and emergency care settings will be unaffected by the decision to decommission HealthSpace.'

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