Additional information will be automatically added to the Summary Care Record of any patient who has not expressed a preference that information isn’t shared.

The information be made available to a wider group of authorised, registered and regulated health and care professionals so that clinicians can quickly assess and treat patients, especially during the coronavirus outbreak.

It will include significant medical history (past and present), reasons for medications, care plan information and immunisations.

The NHS Summary Care record was one of the key projects of the National Programme for IT in the NHS. It was intended to create the ‘national’ element of the integrated care records service that it set out to deliver. Digital Health News reported in 2010 that the project had been given the go-ahead by the government.

GPs and authorised health and care professionals in the NHS are also now be able to access primary care records for patients registered at other practices.

Appointments can also be shared by GPs after NHS Digital and NHSX introduced GP Connect to all practices.

In addition, NHS 111 staff will also be able to book direct appointments for patients at any GP practice or specialist centre.

These changes will increase information sharing across health and care professionals working in primary care, NHS 111 and other care settings where access is required for patients’ direct care.

Richard Alcock, interim director of primary care technology at NHS Digital said: “GPs and other front-line clinicians are increasingly finding themselves working differently, with normal working patterns disrupted and a greater pressure than seen before on the system.

“Patients will now be able to have appointments booked at practices other than where they are registered as well as at a number of different healthcare settings. However, for that to work in practice, their new clinicians will need to have swift access to pertinent medical information, such a previous medical history or medications prescribed, to treat them safely.

“We have produced guidance with NHSX for GP practices to help them enable the GP Connect change quickly and without any hassle so that they can benefit from this functionality, providing them with the information they need to do their jobs effectively.

“This step is crucial to support clinicians so that they can give timely, accurate clinical advice to their patients at a time when they are already under unprecedented stress and having to work in completely new ways to deliver care.”