By Gareth Iacobucci
The Government has restarted the national rollout of the Summary Care Record, and resumed its public campaign informing patients their records will be uploaded unless they opt out.
The distribution of public information packs alerting patients to the rollout had been suspended since June 2010, after the Government halted the rollout while it conducted a review of the care record, amid claims from the BMA that the packs did not adequately inform patients about their right to opt out.
But the Department of Health has confirmed packs are once again being sent to some patients, and will shortly begin a full rollout of patient information packs across the country, after the review concluded that opt-out forms should be included in the packs, and that the information should be simplified to make it easier for patients to understand.
Latest figures show that as of mid-December almost 30 million patients have received public information packs, and that 4.08 million records have been uploaded by 634 GP practices.
However the DH refused to give any details of where the rollout has now resumed or how many packs have been sent out since it restarted.
Dr Neil Bhatia, a GP in Yateley, Hampshire who has publicly campaigned against the Summary Care Record, said he feared that many practices would be ‘bullied into uploading’.
He said: ‘Practices should decide if they want to be part of the SCR, and, if so, under their terms, not Connecting for Health’s.’
‘I hope that those practices unwilling to upload under the implied consent model will have the courage to just say no, but I fear many will be bullied into uploading.’
‘I also hope the BMA and LMCs will support those practices who do not wish to be part of this.’
But the GPC’s latest Summary Care Record guidance for GPs falls short of telling them to stop uploading.
It says: ‘We are not telling practices to stop SCR uploads, but advising that we are working with NHS Connecting for Health on guidance, which will support practices when considering implementing SCRs in accordance with the review recommendations.’
‘The position still remains that GP practices can consider their local circumstances and make their own decisions about whether to proceed or wait for guidance.’
Summary Care Record rollout resumes