By Ian Quinn
The Department of Health has backed down over the Summary Care Record and today agreed all uploading of records in areas subject to the recent accelerated rollout will be stopped until GPs and patients have been properly consulted.
Ministers caved in to demands from the BMA after it threatened a mass boycott of GPs, and are now pledging that no records will be uploaded until a further period of consultation has been launched with both practices and patients.
Connecting for Health had paid SHAs millions to take part in an accelerated rollout of the care record, but Pulse revealed last month that those plans had come off the rails, amid GP anger over the lack of information they and patients had received.
GP leaders, angry that patients had been told they had 12 weeks to opt out or the process of uploading records would begin, had already been advised that practices would be allowed more time to upload records.
But the decision to suspend uploading records altogether goes even further and is a major victory for the BMA.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘Summary Care Records will not be created in the regions identified for accelerated implementation of the SCR Patient Information Programme until appropriate professional and public awareness has been raised.’
Dr Grant Ingrams, chair of the BMA’s IT sub committee, welcomed the decision.
‘The GPC has received an assurance from the DH that the upload of the care record, which has been subject to an accelerated rollout, will be suspended,’ he said. ‘Connecting for Health has listened to our concerns.’
Uploads will be suspended only to areas subject to the recent accelerated rollout, and will continue in some areas, such as early adopter sites.
Health minister Mike O’Brien has avoided having to explain the decision under election purdah rules.
GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘We have received an assurance [from Mike O’Brien]. They are not allowed to issue ministerial statements. But we have an assurance.’