The summary care record roll out

The British Medical Association is to write to health minister Mike O’Brien as the row over the roll-out of the Summary Care Record escalates.

Local medical committees have reported that their attempts to include opt-out forms in information sent to patients has been blocked.

Meanwhile, a glitch at a mailing house used by NHS Connecting for Health has led to patients receiving information packs addressed to other patients.

The BMA’s General Practitioner Committee has also issued guidance to GPs on the roll-out, which says it is “deeply concerned by this sudden acceleration in the roll-out and feel that it being rushed.”

The guidance outlines the BMA’s call for opt-out forms to be included in information packs sent to patients and states that the BMA would have preferred to see a national publicity campaign for the SCR.

The GPC and BMA have stopped short of advising GPs to boycott the SCR roll-out, since it says this is a decision that should be made by patients.

However, the guidance says GPs should ensure that opt-out forms are available in their practices and that any information provided to patients is “ balanced and empowers them to make an informed decision."

It says practices can also decided whether they want to be involved but those that decline must still ensure that any patient requests to opt-out are recorded.

Dr David Wrigley, a GP in Lancashire and GPC member for Lancashire and Cumbria, said he and colleagues were not opposed to the sharing of information but were concerned by the pace of roll-out and the potential implications for patients and practices.

He told EHI primary Care: “By last Friday, one of our local practices had had 96 requests from patients to see either the practice manager or GP about the letter.”

He said his LMC’s request to include a tear off slip for patients to opt-out at the bottom of the letter sent by their PCT was refused by CfH.

He added: “It just makes it more difficult for patients and we know from the early adopter areas that seven out of ten patients had not assimilated the information they had been sent.”

Dr Wrigley said he would like to see more time allowed for consultation and discussion before further roll-outs went ahead. He added: “It seems to be like a steam-roller and once it’s started it’s very difficult to stop.”

Earlier this week, the BBC reported that some of the SCR information packs sent to patients in Cambridgeshire also contained a letter for a second patient, including the name and address of the patient’s practice and their NHS Number. A patient in Hertfordshire reported a similar error.

CfH said that “in a small number of cases” more than one patient letter had been included in an envelope.

In a statement, it added: “The NHS would like to reassure people that the letters contain no medical information. The letters have been sent to inform patients about changes to their health records.

"Furthermore, it should be emphasised that no-one will be able to access medical records as a result of this issue.

"The mail house supplier responsible for sending out the letters has undertaken a rigorous review of their processes and have immediately implemented additional safeguards to ensure that these issues are kept to a minimum.

"We remain committed to patient safety and will write to those affected to apologise and provide reassurance."