The summary care record roll out

Dr Paul Cundy has said that the Department of Health’s statement about the suspension of the Summary Care Record in areas where its roll-out has been accelerated “means nothing.”

Speaking at the Health Informatics Congress 2010, Dr Cundy said: “The Department of Health can say what they like, but unless they issue a statutory regulation they cannot impose a statement on all the PCTs and the SHAs.”

The former chair of the joint IT committee of the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners added that the BMA is in conversation with the DH. 

He said the conversation was along the lines of: “you said it’s going to stop, but they [PCTs] haven’t stopped – dozens of PCTS are not stopping. They’ve committed the funds, they’ve sent out the letters, and they’re going ahead.”

Last month, the BMA wrote to health minister Mike O’Brien calling for a suspension of the accelerated roll-out, claiming that five SHAs had decided to push ahead before sufficient independent evaluation of pilots had taken place.

A month later, the DH said it had suspended the roll-out in those areas “until appropriate professional and public awareness has been raised."

Dr Cundy added: “The DH get up and say these things but they actually have no power whatsoever to make PCTs do them.

"The only way the secretary of state can make a statement and get PCTs to do it is to issue a statutory instrument through Parliament, which is another issue about ‘well, what happens if half the country wants a SCR and the other half not?’”

Dr Cundy also clarified the BMA’s position on the SCR, saying it was more the consent model that it objected to than the record itself.

“We profoundly disagree with implied consent [but] that’s quite separate from the Summary Care Record. I said when I was chairman that it has the potential to be beneficial.

"Personally, as a GP, I’ve practiced without paper records for 20 years. But an orphan, advocate free, unmanaged record made up of multiple contributions from people who, predominately, at the moment, are not data savvy… I have grave reservations about how valuable that will ever be."

Dr Cundy also said the NHS should “stop experimenting with the whole population’s records all in one go” and that more pilots were needed.

A report to assess the implementation and impact of the SCR and HealthSpace has been commissioned from UCL. The report was completed on 10 March but is not due to be published until at least 7 June, following quality assurance and peer review.