Londonwide Local Medical Committees, the professional voice of the capital’s 6,000 GPs, says it is not out to sabotage or undermine the roll-out of the NPfIT Summary Care Records.
Its joint CEO Dr Michelle Drage spoke to us after we reported that London GPs are taking collective action which will make it easier for their patients to “opt-out” of having their medical details uploaded to a central database run by BT as part of the summary care records component of the National Programme for IT [NPfIT].
Londonwide LMCs has sent a letter to GPs which expresses concern about the “very short period” which primary care trusts and NHS Connecting for Health are giving patients to choose whether to opt out of having an central NPfIT “summary care record”.
The letter from the Londonwide LMCs says: “Many patients will have worries which they will wish to have addressed, and many may not bother or may ignore the letters [from primary care trusts on the summary care record scheme] and miss their chance to opt out from the start.”
Now Dr Michelle Drage has contacted us to make it clear that Londonwide LMCs is giving information to GPs to help them inform their patients about the summary care record.
“We are not out to undermine the process. It isperfectly reasonable for patients to be on the [summary care records]’spine’. We have said … on our poster that their key information can be shared.
“We don’t take a view on the value or otherwise of this particular way of centralising medical records.
“Whatwe’re concerned about – and all we are concerned about – is respondingto our [GP] practices that are already reporting confusion amongpatients on whether they are opting-in or opting-out, or whether anautomatic opt-in means that’s it forever.
“Our response is to equip practices with the simplest way of helping them explain to patients.
“We have shared [what we aredoing] with NHS London and Connecting for Health and it might not bethe ideal way they’d have liked it, but in our role of helping tosupport practices this was responding to a need.”
Patients are confused, she said, because some have received information about thesummary care records scheme and some haven’t. So Londonwide LMCs isgiving GPs clear and concise information on opting in or opting out.[Arguably NHS Connecting for Health’s information to patients on the SCRis lengthy and has conflicting messages].
Dr Drage said:
“Practicesare concerned that the current way of informing patients [of thesummary care records scheme] through the packs that the NHS/connectingfor health was sending out, isn’t reaching them. Yet patients arecoming through the door [of GP practices] and asking what to do.”
“Weare raising awareness of the fact that their records are going to beuploaded and that they have the option to opt out if that is what theychoose. We are trying to give them, in succinct language, what theimplications are, and also referring them to the officialdocumentation. We are not out to undermine. We are out to demystify forpatients.”
Londonwide LMCs has amended its poster for GPpractices after our article. The original poster encouraged patients toopt out if they were unsure about whether to opt-in or opt-out. Now theposter advises patients to read a factsheet if they are unsure.
Londonwide LMCs poster – Londonwide LMCs website
Summary Care Record Factsheet – Londonwide LMCs website