Health and care staff have three months to move to latest NHS patient record service

NHS England has told health and care workers they have until the end of September to switch to the latest patient record system

Users of the NHS’s patient record care have three months to switch to the latest system or face being unable to access critical information.

About 115,000 health and care professionals, as well as 15,000 different organisations, currently use the NHS Summary Care Record application (SCRa), but the system will be shut down on 30 September, and its users have until 29 September to move to its replacement.

The National Care Records Service (NCRS), which is replacing SCRa, uses more modern technology and is web based, making it more accessible to staff including those using mobile devices, critical with new working practices. The NCRS service can be used in clinical, office or mobile environments over the internet, as well as via the Health and Social Care Network.

The service uses secure biometric login, Microsoft authenticator, and existing physical and virtual smartcards. 

Stephen Koch, executive director for platforms at NHS England, said NCRS was created with both mobile and internet technology in mind. He said it meets accessibility standards that the previous system was unable to. “By working closely with end users, we have designed the new service to provide a quick and secure way to access national patient information to improve clinical decision-making and healthcare outcomes for patients,” said Koch.

He added that many users have already made the switch. “We’ve taken steps to ensure the switch over to NCRS is as quick and simple as possible, and hope users will take this opportunity to join the thousands of other health and care staff who have already switched to the new system to benefit from the new features available.”

NHS England said the services accessible will remain the same, including being able to search for patient NHS numbers using the Personal Demographics Service, and the ability to access patient Summary Care Records and view Child Protection information. In addition, NCRS enables them to access additional information including care plans through the National Record Locator.

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It added that existing smartcard credentials and access rights will also continue to work on NCRS.

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has already switched over to the NCRS. Donna Flatt, data quality manager at the Trust, said the process of switching over to NCRS was quick and easy. “It has a nicer appearance and is easy to navigate,” she said. “NHS number retrieval is also quicker and easier, with a copy button next the NHS number. It supports our clinical teams to effectively treat patients using up-to-date and accurate information.”

The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust’s head of IT, Simon Parton, said NCRS is easier to use and provides more efficient ways of working. “The whole switching process was seamless, causing no disruption to service,” he said. “It is a much-needed enhancement and improvement to what was already a very useful digital tool, offering only benefits for Trusts.”

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