Firms may issue Smartcards to access patient records

Private healthcare companies and social care organisations could be given the power to issue NHS Smartcards so their staff can access patient records, the government has said.

The primary care strategy, released alongside the Darzi review, suggested that staff at non-NHS bodies which provide patient care would be given access to the NHS Care Records Service. This would ‘support more integrated care', it said.

A spokesman for NHS Connecting for Health confirmed that non-NHS staff ‘will require an NHS Smartcard' to access the database. They would likely be issued by existing ‘registration authorities', such as PCTs, he said.

But he added that ‘policy is being developed which will create criteria that might allow certain non-NHS organisations to have their own registration authorities in the future'.

The primary care strategy said that the government would ‘review the scope' of the care records system to ‘embrace a fuller range of organisations... including social care, voluntary and private sector organisations and pharmacy, dental and optical services.'

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