The BMA’s GP committee is calling on the government to suspend access to all existing Summary Care Records.

The demand comes because it has emerged that some GP practices are failing to update SCRs once they have been uploaded to the Spine.

Birmingham Local Medical Committee has reported that 8,800 SCRs out of the 82,000 created in the city have not been updated – even though changes have been made to the relevant data, which covers medications, allergies and adverse events.

The problems have been blamed on data issues, staff not using smartcards, not having smartcards, or not having appropriate access rights.

Last week’s General Practitioner Committee said that the risk to patient safety meant access to existing SCRs should be immediately suspended “until all patient safety issues have been fully investigated and satisfactorily resolved.”

A BMA spokesperson told EHI Primary Care: “Concerns are being expressed that many of the SCRs that have already been created are not being updated.

"This appears to be a multifactorial problem but has potentially very serious implications for patient safety and needs to be fully investigated.”

As revealed on EHI Primary Care last week, the GPC also wants the Department of Health to halt the creation of any more Summary Care Records “until the full review of the model and other models has taken place to address cost-effectiveness and the need for informed and explicit consent for patients.”

However, a DH spokesman said it believed the decision about whether to create new SCRs should continue to be taken locally by GP practices and primary care trusts.

He added: “We have always been clear about the importance of using safety features such as smartcards in order to prevent unauthorised users accessing and updating records.

"Smartcards are also necessary to synchronise a patient’s demographic details on their local GP record with the NHS Personal Demographic Service, so they are identified correctly and the right information is added to the right record.

"The experience in Scotland, which has had a similar electronic summary operating for a number of years, shows the benefits it provides to patients receiving emergency and out of hours care."

In a letter to Birmingham GPs about the discovery of out of date SCRs, LMC secretary Dr Charles Zuckerman said South Birmingham PCT IT staff were taking “urgent measures to remedy the problem as far as it is possible” and said a national solution was also being investigated.

He said the factors which led to SCRs not being updated included discrepancies between the demographic information on the Spine and those on the GP system not being resolved.

Other problems included GPs and practice staff not authenticating their smartcards, some practice staff including locums not having smartcards at all, some staff not having the appropriate roles and functions on their smartcards and practice staff not undertaking the necessary housekeeping routines to ensure updated records were sent to the summary.

GP practices are advised to ensure that all records have been updated corrected and that all staff have the appropriate smartcards.

The letter adds: “If you have already uploaded your records, failure to adopt and observe the above procedures is a serious clinical governance issue and could ultimately involve harm to patients and threaten your professional registration with the GMC.”

The LMC said it was also advising practices that were waiting to upload SCRs to the Spine to defer the process until all outstanding concerns had been resolved.

A DH spokesman said the department was fully committed to reviewing the information sent to patients about the SCR and the process by which they can opt out, as well as reviewing the content of the record.

He added: “All new mailings of letters informing patients about the Summary Care Record have been paused while this review takes place.”