Patients’ ‘tsar’ and chair of the Care Records Development Board, Harry Cayton, will lead the taskforce set up to help get the NHS Summary Care Record underway and resolve outstanding issues over its introduction, it was announced today.

The taskforce membership will also include leaders from the main clinical professions and representatives from patient groups and the health service.

The intention to set up the taskforce was first announced last month by health minister, Lord Warner, in a move designed to pre-empt criticism from the National Audit Office (NAO) report on the National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

Naming the taskforce members today, Lord Warner said: "The recent NAO report on the NHS National Programme for Information Technology confirmed that it is much needed, well managed and can bring great benefits to the NHS and patients. Now, we need to crack on with getting the NHS Care Records Service up and running next year. The taskforce has wide representation and its members are well placed to resolve outstanding issues.

"The NHS CRS will bring benefits from the moment it’s in place and we owe it to patients to do this as soon as possible. I am confident that, with support from the clinical community, NHS Connecting for Health can and will deliver this valuable service."

The intention is that an NHS Summary Care Record will be held on the Spine for everyone in England to ensure that important patient information is always accessible. This will include data such as name, address, NHS number and date of birth, and clinical information such as allergies, adverse reactions to drugs and details of any visits to A&E.

Detailed records will be held locally where most care is delivered. Links to local information will be available from the summary record.

Arrangements for putting the Summary Care Record in place have divided opinion, notably in the medical profession, where there is concern about the confidentiality of records held in such a large database, despite elaborate security technology.

There has also been debate about the adequacy of proposed procedures for ensuring that patients have suitable opportunities to opt out of having some or all of their data stored on the summary record.

The Department of Health statement says: “The taskforce will identify and look at the concerns of patients and the clinical profession about the creation of the summary care record. It will resolve issues in ways that are practical and benefits patients and the NHS.

“In conjunction with NHS Connecting for Health, it will draw up an agreed plan for the implementation of the nationally available summary record. At the end of November it will report to ministers.”

The taskforce membership will comprise: Harry Cayton (chair),national director for patients and the public; Ursula Gallagher, executive director of quality, clinical governance and clinical practice, Ealing PCT; James Johnson, chair, British Medical Association (BMA); Mayur Lakhani, chair, Royal College of GPs; Beverly Malone, general secretary, Royal College of Nursing; Hamish Meldrum, chair, BMA General Practitioners’ Committee; Professor Mike Parker, director, the Oxford Centre for Ethics and Communication in Health Care Practice (Ethox); Nick Partridge, chief executive, Terrence Higgins Trust; Sigurd Reinton, chair, London Ambulance Service NHS Trust; Maria Shortis, patient advocate; Jan Sobieraj, chief executive, Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Jim Wardrope, president, College of Emergency Medicine.

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