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Out-of-hours GPs say care record is saving lives

By Alisdair Stirling

Exclusive: GPs working out of hours in areas covered by the Summary Care Record access it on a daily basis and believe it has made patients safer, new findings reveal.

A survey of 53 out-of-hours GPs by computer firm Adastra, which provided them with access to the care record, found 69% had used it on the day they were questioned, and 35% that it had ‘informed clinical decisions today’.

Overall, 61% of respondents thought the care record had improved safety for patients, with information on repeat medication and allergies considered most useful.

The results were released as clinical leaders for out-of-hours care attacked the UCL report’s negative findings, and insisted the care record was having clinical benefits and needed to be retained.

Dr Simon Collins, clinical lead for out-of-hours provider Meddoc in Kent, said his organisation was part of a pilot rolling out the care record to 130,000 patients.

He claimed among the third already covered were concrete examples of benefit, including prevention of penicillin treatment in an allergic elderly patient, and a chronically constipated young man who turned out to be on co-codamol.

Dr Collins said: ‘The Summary Care Record can and has saved lives. In years to come, doctors that block it will be seen as Luddites and out of date.’

He claimed to be at a loss to understand why Professor Greenhalgh’s report had been so scathing about the care record: ´Because of the fuss over confidentiality it was rolled out half-heartedly and some doctors have been slow to see the benefits.’

GP Dr Liaqat Natha, clinical lead for the Summary Care Record at NHS Bolton, one of the original pilot sites, said there had been a series of benefits for terminally ill patients and their families through having end-of-life templates uploaded.

Giving one example, he said: ‘When the patient died, paramedics and police attending contacted the out-of-hours service and were quickly able to establish it was not an unexpected death.’

The Greenhalgh report did find some evidence out-of-hours call centre nurses had found the care record useful and ‘anecdotal’ reports of benefit in medication information.

Out-of-hours GPs say care record is saving lives Click here to read the rest of our special issue on IT and information governance. Guest editor