The summary care record roll out

NHS organisations are hoping to go-ahead with the roll-out of the Summary Care Record, despite the Department of Health’s agreement that uploads should stop in areas where an accelerated roll-out was planned.

The BMA announced last week that it had received an assurance from the DH that the upload of SCRs would be suspended in areas where the programme of roll-out was accelerated.

However, this week the DH has confirmed to EHI Primary Care that it is “in discussions” with strategic health authorities and PCTs that want special dispensation to continue with the roll-out.

Affected areas are thought to include NHS East of England, which was one of five SHAs taking part in an accelerated roll-out of the scheme.

The SHA is well advanced with its plans to roll-out the SCR across its 14 PCTs and EHI Primary Care understands it may be unwilling to accept the DH’s edict that uploads should stop.

An NHS East of England spokesperson said: “No decision has been made yet by NHS East of England. We await the outcome of ongoing discussions between the Department of Health, NHS Connecting for Health and the British Medical Association.”

Other PCTs in England are also thought to be seeking special dispensation from the DH to go ahead. A DH spokesperson told EHI Primary Care: “We are in discussion with PCTs on issues including this.”

The spokesperson said 70 PCTs were involved in the accelerated roll-out, of which nine were ready to upload records but would now be prevented from doing so. The names of those nine PCTs have yet to be released.

A further 16 PCTs involved in the early adopter and fast follower programmes will be able to go-ahead with the scheme.

Dr Grant Ingrams, chair of the Joint IT Committee of the BMA and RCGP, said he believed the DH had agreed to the suspension of the SCR roll-out because of problems the BMA had identified.

He added: “There were patients phoning up practices where the practices didn’t even know leaflets had been sent out, leaflets being sent out without information campaigns, and PCTs who didn’t really understand what was expected of them or practices.”

It is understood the independent evaluation of the SCR, due for publication later this year, may also recommend some major changes to the SCR programme, making a roll-out now inappropriate.

Dr Ingrams said the current election was also casting uncertainty over the future of the SCR with different parties taking differing stances on the SCR’s future.

He added: “I would hope that it would be reviewed and then either taken forward in a sensible manner or [that there will be] some other replacement way of sharing data made available.

"But even if Labour gets back in, its a question not just of whether this is the right way forward but also of whether we can afford it.”