Patient record project wasted money, say GPs

The GPC has called on the DoH to rethink its plans for an 'information revolution', warning that few patients want access to their medical records.

Dr Nagpaul: investing in a poorly used scheme is hard to justify (Photograph: M Case-Green)

The call comes after the DoH admitted that fewer than 3,000 people signed up to an £8 million IT scheme that allows patients to email their GP and access their Summary Care Record (SCR).

The Healthspace project is currently run by 10 PCTs, but the DoH has admitted that, as of the end of January, just 2,971 patients had successfully opened a HealthSpace account.

It is thought that difficulties registering with the site have caused the low uptake, as 12,311 people did start the process of applying.

The DoH also said that only 673 patients have viewed their SCR through the site - an average of 60 patients per month.

GPC negotiator Dr Chaand Nagpaul said in the current financial climate it was hard to justify investing in a scheme that is not being used.

'While HealthSpace was formed under a previous administration ... the government should learn from this and temper some of its over-enthusiasm for patient access to records outlined in its information revolution consultation,' he said. 'Accessing records is not the highest priority for patients.'

A DoH spokeswoman said allowing patients to access a 'secure patient portal' and improving communication with clinicians was a key part of giving patients more control and choice about their health.

'We are at the beginning stages of an information revolution which will mean ensuring for patients that no decision is made about me without me,' she said.

'We expect a market to develop and, in the meantime, HealthSpace will continue to provide patients with direct access to their SCR and secure communication with their clinician.'

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