The Summary Care Record (SCR) could be used to share end of life care plans and resuscitation details, according to the Department of Health.

Its newly-launched End of Life Care Strategy recommends that all end of life care providers have access to N3 and the SCR.

The strategy outlines the ways in which information technology could be used to enhance coordination for all adults approaching the end of their life and help achieve the other goals of the strategy which include improved community services and development of specialist palliative care outreach services.

It says: “Lack of effective mechanisms for communicating up-to-date, sensitive information between providers can be a barrier to achieving the goals of this strategy. For instance out-of-hours providers and emergency services may not be aware of a patient’s condition and preferences for care. This can lead to unnecessary admissions.

“Conversely, if a hospital is unable to communicate with all relevant community services, patients who wish to be discharged to die at home may be precluded from doing so.”

The report recommends that PCTs ensure that all relevant end-of-life care service providers open an NHSmail account and have access to N3.

Currently the strategy says six hospices uses NHSmail and 20 hospices are linked to N3.

It also says NHSmail could be used to send care plans or discharge summaries to that N3 access would means hospices could access SCRs as well as laboratory data, imaging and other information.

The strategy adds: “The SCR could be one of the vehicles for sharing end of life care plans and resuscitation decisions.”

The strategy commits the DH to work closely with Connecting for Health to ensure the functionality exists to deliver maximum benefits to those approaching the end of their life.

It is recommended by the strategy that all people approaching the end of their life should have a care plan and says holding the plan electronically will make it easier for all those who have a legitimate reason o access them such as out of hours and emergency or urgent care services.

The strategy has been backed by £286m investment which the government says will mean that by 2011 it has met its 2005 manifesto commitment to double the investment in palliative care.

Health secretary Alan Johnson said people coming to the end of their lives deserved high quality, compassionate and dignified care.

He added: “This increased funding will continue momentum for improvement and help make sure that everyone gets access to high quality palliative care and has choice about where that care takes place.”

Related document

End of Life Care Strategy