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New duty will force all health organisations to share patient records

The Government will soon release guidance which introduces a duty for health and social care organisations to have the same duty to share patient records that GPs currently have.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Liverpool today, Mr Lamb said that recent care ‘scandals’ had often been linked to a ‘failure of communications’ between different organisations.

He also said that he wanted the Liberal Democrats to make a manifesto pledge, to introduce a legal requirement for commissioners in health and social care to pool budgets.

Responding to a question from the floor on sharing information between the health and care sectors, Mr Lamb told the conference the Government was frustrated by technological barriers to information sharing.

He said: ‘We’re very close to issuing guidance, that we’re hoping everyone will sign up to. Which in effect gets across the message that there’s a duty to share, it’s not an optional extra.’

‘To provide good care, there’s a duty to share, and we know that all of the scandals that happened, where there have been complete failures of care. It’s so often because of ten because of the failure of communication between organisations.’

GP experts said this was a positive step.

Dr Andrew Mimnagh, a GP in Sefton, Merseyside, said: ‘We’ve been in the position where it would have been useful to give partner care organisations information about patients, but we could be challenged under confidentiality rules’

‘They have then taken the approach of “we’ll show you ours, if you show us yours”. So if there is a level playing field, this is fine.’

Mr Lamb also called for health and care budgets to be pooled.

He said: ‘Ultimately I think the whole health and care budget should be pooled. It doesn’t actually, surely, make sense to have two separate budgets in a local area, two organisations doing the commissioning.

But Dr Steve Kell, chair of Bassetlaw CCG and co-chair of the NHS Clincial Commissioners Leadership Group said top down ‘edicts’ should not be used. He said: ‘We would be concerned about the top down legal requirement to do this.’