Introduction to Summary Care Records
Presently records are kept in all of the places where you receive care. These places can usually only share information from your records by letter; e-mail; fax or phone. At times, this can slow down treatment and sometimes make it hard to access information.
Summary Care Records are being introduced to improve the safety and quality of patient care. Because the Summary Care Record is an electronic record it will give healthcare staff faster, easier access to essential information about you, and help to give you safe treatment during an emergency or when your GP surgery is closed.
For example, a person who lives in Sunderland and is on holiday in Norfolk. One evening they’re knocked unconscious in a car accident and taken to accident and emergency (A&E) department. Under the current system of storing health records, it would be difficult for A&E staff to find out whether there are any important factors to consider when treating the person (such as any serious allergies to medications), especially as their GP surgery is likely to be closed. If healthcare staff cannot get the relevant health information quickly, some patients may be at risk.
A Summary Care Record is an electronic record that’s stored at a central location. As the name suggests, the record will not contain detailed information about your medical history, but will only contain important health information, such as:
- Whether you are taking any prescription medication,
- Whether you have any allergies,
- Whether you have previously had a bad reaction to any medication,
Access to your Summary Care Record will be strictly controlled. The only people who can see the information will be healthcare staff directly involved in your care who have a special smartcard and access number (like a chip-and-pin credit card).
Healthcare staff will ask your permission every time they need to look at your Summary Care Record. If they cannot ask you e.g. because you’re unconscious, healthcare staff may look at your record without asking you. If they have to do this, they will make a note on your record.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q: Do I Have a Choice Whether I Have a Summary Care Record or not?
A: Yes you do have a choice, if you would like one, you won’t need to do anything, it will happen automatically.
If you choose not to have one you must sign an opt out form (these forms are available in “Our Documents” for download or alternatively you can get a copy from the surgery). The opt out form must be completed and returned to the Practice.
Q: What Other Information is Available?
A: We have patient information leaflets and factsheets available in “Our Documents” and more information about Summary Care Records is available at www.nhscarerecords.nhs.uk.