BMA demands summary care record roll-out suspension

The programme to upload summaries of patients' medical records in England to a national database should be suspended, according to the BMA.

Dr Meldrum: patient rights will be damaged if the summary care record process is rushed
Dr Meldrum: patient rights will be damaged if the summary care record process is rushed

A letter to health minister Mike O'Brien expresses concern that the roll-out of the summary care record has been accelerated before sufficient independent evaluation of pilots has taken place.

In December the DoH announced that the roll-out of the summary care record would be accelerated.

The BMA believes that the process is being carried out too quickly. Patients can opt out of having a record created but the BMA believes that they are receiving insufficient information about the choices that they can make.

GPs have reported that the rushed implementation of the programme means they do not have time to support patients in making an informed choice, and that in some cases records are being created without even implied consent from patients.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, BMA chairman, said: ‘If the process continues to be rushed, not only will the rights of patients be damaged, but the limited confidence of the public and medical profession in NHS IT will be further eroded.'

A DoH spokesman said: ‘The summary care record is an important patient safety initiative widely supported by clinicians, in particular those working in out-of-hours and emergency settings, and by the patients they treat. It will make accurate information about medications, allergies and important medical conditions available to clinicians treating patients in circumstances when they may be too unwell to provide this themselves.

'We are surprised to have a five-year time frame criticised as a ‘break-neck pace' when the programme had been previously criticised for its slow uptake. We absolutely support the right of any patient to opt out of having a summary care record and have provided various options to make this process straightforward.'

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