Charities back electronic patient records

LEADING health charities have backed new electronic patient records being offered to patients in Northumberland.

Summary Care Records (SCRs) are electronic records which give healthcare staff faster, secure access to essential information about patients to help provide safe treatment when care is needed in an emergency or when GP practices are closed.

As an added safeguard, patients will always be asked their permission before their SCR is viewed.

In the NHS North of Tyne area, more than 35,000 records have been created so far for patients following a wide-ranging communications campaign, which included pointing out patients’ rights to opt out of the initiative if they choose.

The main issue identified by patient groups which the SCR could help remedy is patients having difficulties communicating their needs.

Caroline Stevens, Interim Chief Operating Officer at the British Lung Foundation, said: “The Summary Care Record will bring many benefits for patients but especially those with a lung disease who are often admitted to hospital in an emergency if their condition flares up unexpectedly.

“The records will mean that healthcare professionals have the most current information and will be able to treat patients quickly, efficiently and accurately.”

And Neil Churchill, Chief Executive Officer of Asthma UK, said: “Patients with asthma can have long and detailed medical histories and it is unrealistic to expect them to repeat these whilst they are struggling to breathe, which causes unnecessary pain and stress.

“As a consenting patient with a long-term condition, I expect my medical details to be available wherever they are needed, which will ensure my safety in emergencies and improve consistency and quality of care whichever part of the NHS I deal with.”

The SCR carries basic information on a patient’s allergies, medications and past adverse reactions to medicines.

They can choose to have more information added to it after discussing the potential benefits with their GP.