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GPs to receive instant e-summaries for all discharged hospital patients from October

Hospitals will have to provide GPs with instant electronic discharge summaries for all acute and day care patients as of next month.

NHS England said the new regulations, which form part of the Government’s ‘paperless NHS’ vision, will ensure information is immediately available at the time of patient handover and thereby improve patient safety.

According to NHS England, trials have shown that GPs having instant access to handover notes online ‘reduces the risk of error… as doctors can immediately see what medicines their patients are on and what procedures they have had’, and the GP practice can ‘care for them more effectively straight away’.

The Government had initially said the NHS would be paperless by 2018, but later this week NHS England director for patients and information Tim Kelsey will tell CCGs that they have until 2020 to completely abolish paper. CCGs will have to submit detailed plans for how they plan to deliver this by April 2016, he will also say.

Mr Kelsey will say: ‘The NHS in England must end the unnecessary reliance on paper in the treatment of patients. It’s key to making services safer, more effective and more efficient.’

Other ‘digital innovations’ set to be announced by Mr Kelsey at NHS England’s Health and Care Innovation Expo on Thursday include a ‘barcode’ to identify patients which would follow them around the system, NHS England said.

‘To improve patient safety and reduce the risk of error, patients, pieces of medical equipment and drugs will be positively identified through the use of barcode technology. This will help to ensure the right patient, drug, dose, route, and time and avoid never events,’ a statement revealed.

Last month NHS England attempted to illustrate its vision for the new digital NHS with an animated video following an ‘egbot’ whizzing along a conveyor belt using tablets and smart phones to access healthcare.