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Electronic patient records launched in London

Summary Care Records containing key medical information which will be accessible wherever patients are treated are being rolled out across London, the Department of Health announced today.

The scheme is taking off across England over the next year as part of a national roll-out of the programme.

A Summary Care Record is a secure electronic summary of core information such as medications, allergies, adverse reactions and key health information derived initially from the patient's GP record and added to as necessary by other healthcare staff treating the patient.

The first records to be created in London are due to be uploaded in Southwark at the Princess Street Group Practice on 19 November. Everyone living in the capital will be written to, outlining the initiative, and offering them the choice to opt out of having a Summary Care Record created.

The records have already been trialled in a number of regions across England, with Strategic Health Authorities across the country now planning to implement them. For example, East of England SHA expects to introduce them by the end of 2010.

The early adopters already show evidence of improving out-of-hours care, ensuring that doctors have reliable, relevant, up-to-date information at their fingertips in situations where time is critical.

The Summary Care Record means that clinicians no longer have to rely on patient testimony, which can often be incomplete or inaccurate. Elderly and vulnerable patients and those for whom English is a second language will particularly benefit.

Summary Care Records can be enriched with extra information such as a patient's wishes about End of Life care. In Bury, one of the Summary Care Record early adopters, around 60 patients have done this.

Health Minister Mike O'Brien said:

"Having the right information at the right time can make all the difference to patients' experience of urgent care. Summary Care Records can improve the quality and safety of treatment provided as well as increasing people's comfort and reassurance.

"We are particularly interested in the experience at Bury which has incorporated End of Life wishes for a substantial number of patients. Moving the NHS from good to great needs improvements such as this."

Department of Health