By Ian Quinn
The Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition will face a race against time if it is to carry out its planned axing of the Summary Care Record, after trusts launched a desperate last-minute rush to establish the programme across the NHS.
After a burst of frenetic activity, Connecting for Heath – earmarked for closure by the Tories and Lib Dems – has revealed almost 30 million patients in more than 100 PCTs have now been informed they will have an electronic record created unless they opt out.
Figures released to Pulse under the Freedom of Information Act reveal £7.5 million of central funding has been spent on printing, packaging and postal costs in the past five months alone.
IT managers appear to be aiming to achieve critical mass on the programme before the new Government makes a decision on its future, making it difficult to scrap without writing off a huge amount in costs.
One PCT, NHS East Riding of Yorkshire, began sending out letters to patients inviting them to take part in the rollout the day before election day.
More evidence has also emerged that trusts are pressing ahead with the accelerated rollout, despite the BMA winning a pledge from the outgoing government that a halt would be called until practices and patients had been fully consulted.
Yet NHS South West Essex has proclaimed that one of its health centres has become the first in the so-called accelerated rollout areas to have uploaded its patient records and start using them.
Race to kill off care record