First steps towards joined-up care for Northumbria patients

Nick Lawson, chief clinical informatics officer for Northumbria Healthcare. Picture by Gavin Duthie.
Nick Lawson, chief clinical informatics officer for Northumbria Healthcare. Picture by Gavin Duthie.

The first important steps towards a shared electronic health record for NHS patients living in Northumberland and North Tyneside are now well under way.

For the first time, with informed patient consent, healthcare professionals working in a range of urgent and emergency care settings can now view essential information on a patient’s GP record, helping to inform key clinical decisions about their care and treatment.

Almost all GP practices across Northumberland and North Tyneside have now signed up to the new ‘gateway’ technology – known as ‘Medical Interoperability Gateway’ (MIG) – which is already helping to deliver many key benefits in the safety and quality of patient care, particularly in urgent and emergency situations, with around 120 patients a day now benefitting from the joined-up system.   

When patients present at urgent care centres in Wansbeck, Hexham, or North Tyneside, or if they are admitted as an emergency at the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, clinicians can now view their GP record, with the patient’s verbal consent, to make better informed decisions about their care. 

Equally, if any patients access urgent help from mental-health services or from out-of-hours GP services, clinicians at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Northern Doctors Urgent Care, can also view their GP record.

Patients are now asked by NHS staff at the point they receive urgent or emergency care for their consent to allow clinicians to view their GP record and this decision is then logged by frontline teams.

Hospital and community-based teams will also be able to ask patients coming in for planned hospital treatment, or those receiving ongoing care, if they can view their GP record to help better integrate care.

Healthcare professionals working in primary care and in hospitals across the NHS, already share key clinical information about patients on a daily basis via telephone, by post and even via fax. 

Using technology to share information electronically is a much securer alternative and has very clear benefits for providing safer and more joined-up care for patients so that they get the right treatment, in the timeliest way.

By patients giving their consent for health professionals to view their GP record in different settings, doctors and nurses can now see: Current and past diagnosed conditions; current and past medications; any allergies and adverse reactions; test results; any recent encounters or visits to primary care; up-to- date contact details. 

Nick Lawson, chief clinical informatics officer for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “By sharing records in this way, with the full consent of patients, means hospital colleagues, and others providing urgent or emergency care, will no longer have to wait for relevant information to begin treatment – the benefits for patient safety are clear to see.”

The work taking place in Northumberland and North Tyneside will soon be expanded to include the North East Ambulance Service and Newcastle Hospitals.