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Scotland NHS signs £300m deal for care summary system

Tash Shifrin

Scottish health and community care minister Andy Kerr has signed a £300m IT services contract with a consortium led by Atos Origin, which will also cover the roll-out of Scotland’s Emergency Care Summary system.

The consortium, which includes BT, IBM and Sopra Newell & Budge, will provide NHS Scotland with its principal IT services for 11 years from April 2007, along with some local services to the 14 Scottish NHS Boards.

The contract – negotiated through the NHS National Services Scotland agency – will cover infrastructure services, datacentre services, security management, business continuity, helpdesk services and first line application support. It will support local and national clinical and business systems, including cancer screening systems, electronic pharmacy and NHS Scotland's payroll system.

Kerr has also opened Atos Origin’s new £7m secure datacentre in Livingston, which will house the patient data needed for NHS Scotland’s Electronic Care Summaries.

The Scottish care summary system is set to run on a different basis to the electronic care record service at the heart of the English NHS’s £12.4bn National Programme for IT.

England’s system ran into renewed controversy this week as it emerged that more than half of GPs could refuse to upload medical records onto the system’s central database without explicit consent from each patient. The Westminster government has insisted that patients will not have the right to prevent their full medical records being uploaded.

But the Scottish Executive has opted to create brief electronic summaries of basic patient information that might be needed in an emergency, such as drug allergies. Scottish NHS staff are required to ask patients for permission to access their electronic files – unless they are unconscious – and patients can opt out of the electronic summary entirely.

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