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Smartcard figures revealed

By Steve Nowottny

Connecting for Health has issued nearly 400,000 NHS smartcards – but keeps no record of how many have been lost or stolen, Pulse can reveal.

New figures released under the Freedom of Information Act set out for the first time the true extent of smartcard access to patient records.

Thousands of non-GPs have been given GP-profile access rights, and 22,729 individuals have been made sponsors, enabling them to approve registrations for new smartcard uses.

But Connecting for Health said although it counted the number of smartcards issued, it was unaware of how many cards had been lost or stolen and subsequently reissued.

A spokesperson said: ‘As smartcards are issued and managed at local level, no records are kept nationally.'

Dr Paul Thornton, a GP in Kingsbury, Warwickshire, and veteran campaigner on IT, said the system was like ‘one safe with 383,677 keys and 22,729 licensed locksmiths'.

Who has been issued with an NHS smartcard

• Since early September, 383,677 users have been issued NHS smartcards, with varying levels of access
• They include 63,000 with nursing and midwifery access, 24,000 with pharmacy level access and more than 60,000 with GP level access
• Limited access has also been granted to 57,785 receptionists, 50,280 clerical workers and 43,943 medical secretaries

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