Health minister Simon Burns has said that a review of the current processes around the summary care record will be carried out as part of a wider review on how information and technology can best be used within the NHS.
In a letter addressed to Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of BMA Council, and Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA’s GPs Committee, the health minister says: “Broadly our view is that we see a need for patients and clinicians to be able to access patient records in electronic form.
"This is part of our thinking of making information transparent and available and including patients in decisions around their healthcare.
“In relation to the SCR, we believe that current processes that are in place need reviewing to ensure that both the information that patients receive, and the processes by which they opt out, are as clear and simple as possible.
The letter from Burns adds that: “Using SCRs effectively depends on patients and doctors feeling comfortable with those records rather than them being seen as something that imposed as a central part of government.
"Reviewing how best to achieve this will be part of the wider project of reviewing how information and technology can best be leveraged within the health service.”
The letter was read out to more than 200 GPs attending the Local Medical Committee Conference in London ahead of a vote on whether the SCR should be abandoned.
When asked to vote on scrapping the SCR after the government’s position had been voiced, 50% of the audience were for the motion, 43% were against and 7% abstained from answering.
Despite stopping short of voting for the abandonment of the SCR, the GPs voted for the consent model around the SCR to be changed.
Almost all of the audience voted that patients who wish to have their SCR uploaded centrally should give explicit consent. Sixty two per cent also said that the BMA should formally and publicly abandon its acceptance of the opt-out system with only 29% against the motion.
On consent, the letter from Burns says: “In addition, should a patient opt out they must be able to do so as early in the process as feasible. Forefront in our minds is also the need to ensure security of data around the record.”
The letter adds that the government wants a review around the content of the record and to “agree with stakeholders what should be added and to what timescales.”