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Government gives green light for Summary Care Record rollout to continue

By Nigel Praities

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has announced the Government will press ahead with the Summary Care Record roll-out, alongside a major publicity drive to inform patients they can opt out at any time.

In a speech to the RCGP conference in Harrogate, Mr Lansley said the Government's review had concluded that the Summary Care Record programme should continue, but would be restricted to essential information for emergency care, including a patient's demographic details, medications, allergies and adverse reactions.

He also said any additional information added to the record - a process which has already begun in some early adopter practices - would be on an explicitly opt-in basis.

Mr Lansley said: ‘We will proceed with the Summary Care Record, but it will hold only the essential medical information needed in an emergency. That is medication, allergies and reactions.'

‘If people don't want this information shared, we will make it easy for them to opt out and if they want to add to that information stored on their record, they can. It will be their choice, but based on their explicit consent.'

A Department of Health spokesperson said that all letters sent in future to patients informing them that they are about to have a Summary Care Record created will contain an opt-out form and pre-paid envelope. For those patients already written to, there will be a major publicity campaign to alert them that they are having a record created and that they have the right to opt out.

Despite previous vocal opposition to the way the Summary Care Record roll-out has been conducted, a BMA spokesperson today welcomed the decision: 'We welcome the progress that has been made towards an emergency electronic record that supports urgent care, yet recognises many of the understandable concerns of patients and clinicians.'

'Much will depend on the way the amended scheme is put into practice, and the BMA looks forward to continuing our work with Government on its implementation. It is essential that patients have genuine control over who has access to their records, and when changes are made to them.'

Government to retain Summary Care Record programme SCR report More on...

Click here to read the findings of the report into the Summary Care Record