BMA says: halt rushed roll-out of imperfect Summary Care Records

The British Medical Association (BMA) is writing to health ministers asking them to suspend the upload of patient data onto the Summary Care Records database...

The British Medical Association (BMA) is writing to health ministers asking them to suspend the upload of patient data onto the Summary Care Records database which is run by BT, the Department of Health and NHS Connecting for Health.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA Council told BBC R4's Today programme that the Department of Health and NHS Connecting for Health, which run part of the NPfIT NHS IT scheme, are rushing the roll-out of an "imperfect system".

He said, "As everybody knows there have been delays and lots of cost over-runs in the whole NHS IT system. But there's a difference between the time it has taken to develop and evaluate the system and actually rushing out what we still feel is an imperfect system."

About one million individual records have been uploaded to a central Oracle database - known as the data spine - which is run by BT as part of the NPfIT. Officials at the Department of Health want a further nine million records to be uploaded by the end of the summer.

So anxious are Whitehall officials to accelerate the roll-out that they are not waiting for the results of a study they have commissioned - at a cost of more than £700,000 - which is aimed at informing the roll-out. It has been commissioned from University College London.

The Summary Care Records database includes information on allergies, medications and adverse reactions to drugs. In general doctors support the scheme but say it is difficult to opt out, and that records are being uploaded without the knowledge of most patients. They also have concerns that NHS staff who share smartcards and passcodes will be able to browse records illegally.

Meldrum told BBC's Today: "We are not against the system per se. What we are against is the processes being used for accelerating this roll-out."

Simon Eccles, medical director at NHS Connecting for Health and a consultant in emergency medicine at Homerton Hospital, said Summary Care Records could save lives. "There have been high-profile deaths, including that of Penny Campbell, a journalist's wife, who died even though she had been seen by five different GPs as each did not know what the others had done. It is incredibly important, that where people want it, they are able to share information that will save their lives, because the clinicians will know what is wrong with them. That is common sense."

Is Summary Care Records scheme being accelerated while GPs urge caution? - IT Projects Blog

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