NHS Connecting for Health has issued fresh guidance on the Summary Care Record, setting out how practices can implement changes to the consent model in advance of new Read codes.

The guidance has the backing of the Royal College of GPs and the BMA, both of which say they have been fully involved in its development.

In a joint statement, the two medical bodies have restated their position that the decision to proceed with SCR uploads should rest with individual GP practices.

The BMA, whose policy is that explicit consent should be required for SCR uploads, says it welcomes the guidance and the clarification it provides for practices.

A Department of Health review of the consent model for the SCR, published last October, recommended that only core information on medication and allergies should be uploaded with implied consent and that any other additions should require explicit consent.

The recommendations have been accepted by the government. But new Read codes will need to be developed to record patients’ consent preferences, including explicit consent for additional information.

A Read code will also be developed for explicit consent to a core SCR, even though core information is uploaded on the basis of implied consent.

The new Read codes are expected to be available from 1 April but will not be implemented into GP systems until later in the year.

The BMA and RCGP said: “It is our view that, in the long term, changes to GP systems and new Reads codes are required to ensure that GP practices have the flexibility to record all patient consent options for the SCR in patient records.

"In the interim, this guidance will help practices understand and work with the functionality of current systems.”

The guidance sets out the functionality of current GP systems and explains how practices can handle limitations within each system until the new functionality is introduced.

The BMA and RCGP says it has worked with CfH on the guidance because it recognises that some practices have already gone live with SCRs and some practices wish to do so.

The BMA and RCGP say they have also worked with CfH on a GP practice checklist for practices considering go live with the SCR. The checklist covers areas including data quality, use of smartcards and information for patients and practices.

The RCGP and BMA said they had also commented on new material for the Public information Programme which the SCR review recommended should be simplified. The GP bodies said GP practice posters were now much more explicit about the need for patients to make a choice.