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Q&A: The Summary Care Record rollout

What are Summary Care Records?

A Summary Care Record (SCR) is an electronic record held on a central database which contains details of allergies, current prescriptions and bad reactions to medicines. A patient and their doctor can add additional information to the patient’s SCR with their consent after this is created.

Connecting for Health says that SCRs will ‘assist in improving the safety and quality of patient care, by providing authorised healthcare staff with easier access to reliable information about the patient to help with treatment’.

Summary Care Records are being rolled out in England but not in the devolved nations.

Can patients opt out?

Patients are sent a Public Information Programme (PIP) mailing which contains information on the records and opt out forms. Patients have 12 weeks to opt out.

Who can access SCRs?

Healthcare staff ask patients if they can look at their SCR every time they need to. Healthcare staff only have access to an SCR if it is necessary for them to see the record to do their job.

What are the concerns over the SCR scheme?

There are concerns over the ethics of the ‘implied consent’ model. The GPC and LMC leaders warn that many patients do not open the PIP mailing or do not understand it, and therefore records are effectively being created without informed consent.

Problems with the use of smartcards mean some SCRs may not be up to date with the patient’s latest information and there are fears GPs or other healthcare professionals using the record subsequently would have no way of knowing that this was the case.

Last week it was revealed by Pulse that some SCRs had been mistakenly created for patients who had not been informed that they would be, raising fresh concerns over consent and information governance.

How many SCRs have been created so far?

As of the end of December, 3,031 GP practices have had SCRs created for 21,835,022 patients. Official figures released in April 2012 showed that SCRs were consulted in under 1% of OOH consultations, although this figure may have since changed.

How many patients have opted out?

As of the end of December, 41,560,182 had received a PIP mailing containing information about SCRs. Some 1.34% of patients opted out.