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Huge delay for care record evaluation

By Steve Nowottny

The Summary Care Record will remain under review for at least two years in a move which casts a shadow over the future of the programme, Pulse can reveal.

University College London had been expected to produce its final evaluation next month, but a crippling series of delays, IT problems and fears over security have forced Connecting for Health to order a major extension to the timeframe.

It is a huge blow to Government IT chiefs, who had planned to roll out the record nationally by the end of this year.

Pulse revealed last week that just one patient in four in Bolton, the first early adopter area, has so far had Summary Care Records uploaded.

Other early adopter areas, including Dorset, Bradford and Airedale and South West Essex, have yet to upload any records at all.

The additional evaluation, which will also be carried out by the UCL team, headed by Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, will continue to look at the early adopter areas, as well as neighbouring PCTs which are expected to comprise the next wave. It will cost just over £700,000 and is due to report in May 2010.

Dr Gillian Braunold, clinical director of the Summary Care Record and a GP in Kilburn, north London, said she expected the interim report from UCL next month to be ‘illuminating', adding: ‘It may well be that it strengthens quite a lot of what we're doing that we've had to be quite defensive about – maybe we'll be able to be a bit more robust.'

But Dr Paul Cundy, chair of the GPC IT subcommittee, said: ‘It's rather odd to be hearing about further evaluation before the results of the first evaluation.'

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