Bolton Primary Care Trust - the first in England to test the summary care record as part of the NHS's National Programme for IT [NPfIT] - has reported "excellent progress", though the scheme has met some strong local resistance.
The summary care record is a database of basic medical information run on the national data "spine", which is supplied by BT. It will include information - initially allergies and medications - which could be useful to doctors who are treating patients unexpectedly or out of hours.
Some GPs want a reliable and well-stocked database of patient information to be running as soon as possible. Others refuse to allow summary data on their patients to be uploaded to the spine, fearing that it will not remain confidential.
The Bolton trust board was told this month that "despite some delays outside of our control, excellent progress is being made as the Primary Care Trust has already uploaded summary patient records for 48,000 patients in Bolton and is soon to go live with access to the summary care record in the out-of-hours service and the Primary Care Trust's walk-in centre".
The board was also told that "over 50% of practices have indicated their willingness to be involved in the summary care record project and during 2008 we will continue to work and engage with practices in order to maximise the number of patients in Bolton who have a summary care record."
But staff at the trust also concede that the project has "attracted a degree of controversy across GPs in Bolton, with some wishing to be involved and others not at this stage".
The Local Medical Committee has balloted 169 GPs in the Bolton area on whether they want to proceed with the summary care record. Only 20 were in favour of the scheme, though about 70 did not respond to the question. Of the 98 who responded, 67 did not want to proceed.