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Hospitals being unable to see GP records is ‘downright dangerous’, says health secretary

The health secretary has described hospital trusts’ inability to access GP records as ‘downright dangerous’.

In a speech at NHS England’s Health and Care Innovation Expo, health secretary Matt Hancock outlined his strategy to take NHS IT ‘from the most mundane to the most exciting’ but added that to do this NHS systems first need to ‘talk to each other’.

This comes after NHS England announced a new scheme which will see GPs work off a record system shared between practices, trusts and local authorities, in an effort to improve patient safety.

Mr Hancock said: ‘We know from painful experience that putting data in one big database is bad practice but likewise having thousand of databases that don’t talk to each other costs lives.

‘A world in which we ask an ill patient many times over for their name and address is a problem. A world in which a hospital can’t pull up a patient’s GP record is downright dangerous so our systems need to be able to talk to each other.’

Mr Hancock also announced forthcoming standards that IT systems will be expected to meet if they are to be purchased by the NHS, including cyber security, privacy and interoperability standards, with existing systems expected to upgrade to meet the standards.

He said: ‘No system will be bought that doesn’t meet these standards. Existing systems will have to be upgraded to meet them.’