The NHS must deliver Summary Care Records for all its patients and encourage widespread use of HealthSpace or an equivalent, the Department of Health’s clinical director for informatics has said.

Dr Charles Gutteridge gave unequivocal endorsement to the SCR programme at this week’s Primary Health Info conference, while setting out how he hoped informatics would develop in future.

Gutteridge is a former medical director of Barts and the London NHS Trust and has played a key role in the implementation of Cerner Millennium at the hospital.

He was also involved in the DH’s two reviews of the consent model and content of the SCR last year and said “very significant progress" had been since they were published.

He told the conference more than 6m patients now have an SCR and views of the summary record had risen from 500 a week before Easter to 750 a week during the April holiday season. Thirty four NHS sites are now viewing the SCR.

Dr Gutteridge said: “It would be a tragedy if we don’t get to 50m SCRs or widespread use of HealthSpace or its equivalent system.”

Dr Gutteridge said he used the Communicator function within HealthSpace, which enables secure email exchanges with patients, for one or two of his patients. He said he also embedded the emails into their Cerner patient record.

“For others to be able to read a patient’s thoughts and ideas is very different to reading my interpretation of that and really helpful in getting others to understand what the problem is.”

He added: “I think one of the changes for the next five years is where and how patients use web accessible systems to talk to medical and health professionals about their health.”

However, Dr Gutteridge also told conference that he felt it was a time for new emphasis and highlighted mobile devices, bandwidth and information as the keys which would drive informatics in future.

He added: “I think the game has changed and that’s why the national programmes are coming to an end.”

Dr Gutteridge said that in the future he wanted to see always-on clinical information in an integrated digital record, safety driven by decision support, engaged patients transacting online, clinical performance information, deep informatics for research and education and shared decision making.

He identified better training for clinicians on informatics as a particular concern, arguing that at the moment: “Practically none of the medical schools or nursing schools are delivering young graduates with the range of informatics knowledge that they need to run the system effectively.”