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Restrictions causing ‘unreliable’ Summary Care Record data, GPs warn

Restrictions which mean Summary Care Records (SCR) can only be updated on the national spine if GPs are using a smartcard in consultations may be causing A&E or out of hours GPs to view incomplete or inaccurate records, with other health professionals unaware of this, GPs have warned.

GP leaders said current restrictions were undermining the usefulness of the system by creating ‘unreliable’ data.

The GPC said it had raised the issue with the DH at a national level, but lamented that it had failed to act on their advice to offer ‘workaround’ systems for practices that don’t use smartcards.

Dr Paul Roblin, chief executive of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire LMC said smartcards were not often used in Buckinghamshire, because they slowed down the practice IT system for normal use, with one practice reporting that it had interfered with their allergy data.

Dr Roblin said that this made the record ‘unreliable’ and said that although most GPs would prefer to take their own history rather than relying on the SCR, and would double check all details with the patient, other health professionals may not realise the record is incomplete, and may not check the data.

He added: ‘Drugs lists might not be complete and recent allergies may not be uploaded. The Summary Care Record is unreliable. Don’t rely on it. It’s an expensive initiative without a lot of benefit.’

He said: ‘GPs would know but nurses or other health professionals might not. In out-of-hours services or A&E, they might be the ones doing the initial assessments. If they are placed in that role it needs to be understood that the record could be incomplete.’

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, GPC lead negotiator on IT, said the current system ‘undermines the benefit and usefulness of SCRs.’

He said: ‘The GPC have suggested workaround systems for practices who do not use smartcards, such as a ‘mop-up’ session where all new data is uploaded on to the national spine once a day. However, the DH decided against this option.

‘One of the real limitations is the requirement to use a smartcard to upload data, given at any time there are a number of doctors not using smartcards. There may be professionals who believe it represents an up to date record. Decisions should always be based on up-to-date information.’

A DH spokesperson said: ‘The vast majority of practices which have created Summary Care Records do use smartcards to help ensure records are kept up to date. The date and time of the last update is always clear, enabling health professionals to evaluate what further information and checks may be required.’

Readers' comments (2)

  • Peter Swinyard

    Date and time of last update may be clear - but who knows what has been prescribed in Walk-in-Centres, Darzi Clinics or any of the multiple sources of primary care? Who would use an SCR? Not if someone hsa collapsed and is in A&E as there will not be the time taken to check which John Smith any record relates to and the record cannot be relied on as complete. Not by other GPs. Who then? And why? And why do our tax pounds continue to be poured into this complex, expensive system of such limited usefulness?

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  • Nhsfatcat

    I cannot buy food and fuel without my debit card, why is it such a leap to give patient their records on a read/write data card.
    No card- no care! Solves health tourism, doctor hopping, over investigating and other issues all in one hit.

    'A DH spokesperson said: ‘The vast majority of practices which have created Summary Care Records do use smartcards to help ensure records are kept up to date.' Really- same as most GPs support the Health Bill!

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