Five NHS strategic health authorities, covering half of England, are planning to begin roll-outs of the Summary Care Record in the New Year.

NHS North West, NHS North East and NHS Yorkshire and the Humber will join fellow SHAs in London  and the East of England, which have both recently announced plans to speed up delivery of the SCR.

The latest five SHAs are being backed by the Department of Health which has made money available for regionally-based Public Information Programmes (PIPs), on the proviso that the money must be used by the end of March.

A DH spokesperson told EHI Primary Care that it was always the intention that PIPs would be funded both nationally and locally.

She added: “The NHS has requested that the Department of Health brings forward some funding to this financial year to support more regionally-based Public Information Programmes. All SHAs are eligible to apply for funding. It does not involve additional costs and is in line with existing plans.”

PIPs are 12 week communications programmes carried out in the run-in to SCRs being created.  They are designed to raise awareness of SCRs and give patients the opportunity to opt-out. Until now PIPs have been delivered on a local basis by individual PCTs but some SHAs are planning to run wider campaigns across several PCTs.

At a meeting to launch the roll-out of the SCR in London Dr Phil Koczan, clinical lead for the London Programme for IT, told GPs that funding towards the PIP was dependent on completing the PIPs across London by March 2010.

He said London was too big for a single PIP but individual PCTs too small so the proposal was to group local PCTs together.

Graham Folmer, chief information officer for NHS East of England, said his SHA had decided in September to seek universal roll-out of the SCR by December 2010 and said the impetus was coming from SHAs rather than directly from the DH.

He told EHI Primary Care: “The DH is responding to our passion to get this rolled out as quickly as possible.”

Folmer said the drive to rollout the SCR in the East of England had been stimulated by the SHA’s clinical programme board which had identified the need for a core record available across care organisations to improve the care of people with long term conditions and end-of-life care.

He said individual PCTs would develop their own plan for roll-out of the SCR and run their own PIPs but he said the hope was to get all the PIPs completed by the end of March or close to that date.

Folmer said the SHA was also very keen to promote patient access to the SCR through HealthSpace and said he was confident the SHA would meet its own deadline of complete roll-out by the end of next year.

Last year’s Operating Framework required PCTs to roll-out the SCR within two years of all the GP systems in a PCT being compliant. The DH said the likeliness of meeting this target would depend on PCT readiness.

The spokesperson added:“However, approximately 80% of GP practices now have a compliant SCR system.”

Although less than a million patients in England have a SCR the DH insisted that uptake was growing.

A spokesperson said: “Roll-out of Summary Care Records is gathering pace with the numbers being created growing rapidly and heading towards the one million mark. This trend is likely to continue over the next year.”

The DH said 906,176 SCRs had been created by December 14 and more than 2m patients written to as part of a PIP with the opt out rate consistently below 1%.