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‘Bag-and-barcode’ patient record transfer to begin national rollout

The programme for GP practices to individually bag and label the records of patients transferring is set to begin its national rollout next month.

As of July, Primary Care Support England (PCSE) will require practices in the North of England to adopt the new system, followed by the West Midlands in October, and most of the rest of the country from December and January.

Practices in each region will receive direct communication with details of when exactly they will be required to use the new system, which will see each record scanned at collection, distribution and delivery points.

The new system, which has been trialled by practices in West Yorkshire, was initally supposed to expand across England last year but was delayed when pilots ran into difficulty. As revealed by Pulse at the time, NHS England had significantly underestimated the volume of records that would need moving each week.

PCSE, a service that NHS England outsources to Capita, said the pilot ‘has ensured that the new service is proven, safe and effective, and has enabled us to make a number of improvements to the process’.

And the BMA GP Committee (GPC), which has since negotiated contractual funding for the extra work related to the new system, acknowledged that PCSE has learned ‘lessons’ from the pilots.

Deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘The system has settled down in West Yorkshire and PCSE has shown a willingness to learn from a whole host of initial mistakes and made changes as a result.

‘It has felt more like a pilot that has been learned from rather than the more typical NHS early adopter with rollout before any lessons are learned.’

Dr Vautrey said that although it ‘does take a little longer to put the notes in a bag and put the label on the bag’ this had been recognised in the contract.

But the GPC’s preferred system would be for all patient record information to be transferred electronically, he added.

What GP practices will have to do under the new system

For the past year, practices should have been packing medical records individually in separate shipping bags ready for movement.

The additional steps in the new process will be:

  • Practices will receive a unique tracking label for each record requested from your practice;
  • Practices will need to match the tracking label with the relevant medical record and affix the label to the front of the shipping bag;
  • Shipping bags will be collected by CitySprint on your usual collection and delivery day, but CitySprint will now scan the label so the record can be tracked;
  • Practices will be able to track the status of records you are awaiting via the PCSE portal;
  • Records will also be scanned on delivery to your practice, which will update the tracking on the PCSE portal;
  • Records collected from your practice will be delivered directly and securely to their new practice or into storage. To further improve patient confidentiality and security, shipping bags will be securely sealed and not opened until they reach their final destination.

Source: PCSE/Capita