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Hospital abandons Care Record plans after rollout causes chaos

By Steve Nowottny

The rollout of the Summary Care Record has caused such chaos at A&E that the first hospital to gain access has had to abandon plans for routine use of the system, Pulse can reveal.

A Connecting for Health document reveals use of electronic records at the Royal Bolton Hospital A&E department led to farcical scenes and long queues of patients because it was so slow.

The ability for A&E to access patient information held by GPs was one of the main reasons for introduction of the care record.

But the document released by Connecting for Health's Summary Care Record Advisory Group reveals Bolton hospital had to abandon plans to access records except on the specific request of doctors and even then by printing out hard copies.

A benefits realisation study found care records had been accessed for just 24% of patients – because of delays in the system and ‘low numbers of patients with SCRs'.

The method for checking whether patients had records uploaded was ‘cumbersome' and searching for and printing out a care record took staff an average of one minute.

‘Queues occur for walk-in patients when there are any delays in the booking-in processes,' the report found.

There were some benefits of the care record in A&E, particularly for patients with complex and acute problems, and also in the hospital's pharmacy, community and acute medical receiving units.

An NHS Bolton spokesperson said a system upgrade next year would flag up when a care record had been uploaded, ‘helping reduce access time'.

He added that only a minority of patients in A&E would have a care record, since only a third of patients in Bolton had had information uploaded, and patients from other areas also used the hospital.

Dr Darren Mansfield, GP clinical lead for urgent care at NHS Bolton, insisted the project was on track. ‘The care record is starting to show its potential to dramatically improve the quality and safety of care we deliver to Bolton's patients,' he said.

But GPs critical of the care record claimed the report showed the project was of limited value. Dr Mark McCartney, a GP in Pensilva, Cornwall, said: ‘The evidence is beginning to suggest there is no benefit for the vast majority of patients attending A&E. For the small minority for whom there might be a benefit, other cheaper, more secure and acceptable systems could be developed, such as patient-held records.'

How care record is proving problematic

• Of 1,060 attendances at A&E, 253 patients have Summary Care Records printed and put in notes
• Checking whether practices have uploaded care records is ‘cumbersome'
• On average it takes one minute to search and print a care record
• Staff report queues of walk-in patients whenever delays in booking-in process arise
• System has some benefits, particularly with complex and acute cases

Rollout of the care record has caused chaos in A&E departments

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