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GP's lateral thinking saves a life

Dr Helen Pelendrides saved a patient's life and says she could not have done it without access to the national NHS data 'spine'.

She was working for an out-of-hours organisation on a Friday night when a pathology lab called to warn about a patient with a critically low haemoglobin count who could die over the weekend.

No contact details were given, however, only the patient's name, date of birth and her GP's name.

Dr Pelendrides asked the police to help but they refused to access the electoral roll. She called local hospitals and attempted to locate the GP before thinking of her smartcard. She returned to her north-west London practice where she accessed the Personal Demographic Service held on the data spine. After changing the patient's sex ­ as the name left her unclear whether it was a male or female ­ she found the patient's address.

She drove round and although the patient was initially wary of going to hospital, eventually persuaded her to go.

'It has given me confidence in the shared record, especially when patients can't give any information or are unconscious,' Dr Pelendrides said.

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