Patients in Swindon who need emergency care will soon be able to ensure that healthcare staff have quicker, easier access to important information about them.
The NHS Summary Care Record, which is being rolled about across the town over the next few months, is a secure electronic record which contains key health information about a patient’s medication, allergies and any previous bad reactions to medicines. This information can make all the difference to ensuring safe treatment in an emergency when no other information is available, for example, when a patient’s GP practice is closed.
Dr Elizabeth Mearns, Medical Director for NHS Swindon said: “I am pleased that all patients in Swindon will soon be given the opportunity to benefit from having a Summary Care Record. Patients with a Summary Care Record can be sure that, should they become ill or have an accident, healthcare professionals treating them will have their health information at hand.
For many patients, making this information available within the NHS is common sense and they are surprised it doesn’t happen already. For doctors seeing patients in unfamiliar situations; access to more information helps them make better and safer decisions.
“By making information about medicines and allergies available to staff we can avoid adding to the stress of patients who are asked to remember these details when they need urgent care. The information held in Summary Care Records is potentially lifesaving and will help to improve patient care in Swindon.”
Patients have the right to opt out of having a Summary Care Record and can do so easily by filling out an opt form, which is included in the letter being sent to them, using the freepost business reply service.
Safeguards for patients who do decide to have a record include healthcare staff having to ask their permission before a record can be viewed. Access is restricted to staff with a chip-and-pin NHS smartcard who are involved in a patient’s treatment. Unlike paper records, an audit trail is generated when a record is viewed. No other information will be added to a record without the patient’s explicit consent.