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National Summary Care Record rollout finally begins

By Steve Nowottny

The national rollout of the Summary Care Record is finally to begin next week, almost two years after the launch of the first pilot site.

Documents posted on Connecting for Health's website reveal details of the first wave of the rollout, which will be fully underway by the end of March.

Five ‘fast follower' trusts are to start writing to patients in Lincolnshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Medway, Brighton-and-Hove and the Isle-of-Wight almost immediately, while a further nine have also indicated they may take part.

LMCs have in some cases yet to be informed of the rollout, which comes even though records have been uploaded for only a small proportion of patients in the six existing early adopter areas, and with some early adopters yet to upload any at all.

Some 12,000 patients at three practices in Stoke-on-Trent will begin receiving letters telling them about the Summary Care Record early next week. An NHS Stoke-on-Trent spokesperson insisted local LMC leaders were ‘fully behind' the plans.

But LMCs elsewhere warned local GPs had been left in the dark.

Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs, said: ‘We have not been consulted about the Isle of Wight. We don't know anything about it.'

Dr Neil Bhatia, a GP in Yateley, Hampshire and an IT campaigner, added: ‘Connecting for Health simply want to roll this out as widely as possible, without alerting the public too much, in the hope that there will be no turning back.'

Asked whether LMCs had been consulted, a Connecting for Health spokesman said: ‘Any fast follower that has a confirmed status will have gone through appropriate governance approval within the PCT.'

A letter sent in October and seen this week by Pulse from Dame Deidre Hine, chair of the BMA's Working Party on IT, called on Connecting for Health bosses to go slow, trailing the ‘consent to view' model and reviewing its public communications strategy first. The letter warned: ‘Once agreed, the new model should be carefully piloted with a limited number of practices before any wider rollout.'

But a spokesman for the BMA said this week that it was not opposed to the first wave rollout going ahead, insisting it would involve only a ‘small number' of practices.

PCTs have drawn up secret plans to spearhead national Summary Care Record rollout PCTs have drawn up secret plans to spearhead national Summary Care Record rollout

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