There has been a lot of discussion recently about the NHS Summary Care Record and you will probably have received an opt out form through the post. The press has made lots of fuss about medical records being found on rubbish tips and left on buses and there is a lot of comment about information on the internet not being secure, but do you know what your Summary Care Record will actually consist of? It might be worth reading on before you fill in that form.
It seems to be a widely held belief that having a Summary Care Record means that your whole medical history will be stored on the internet and that it will be visible to anyone who cares to look at it, but this is not the case. A Summary Care Record is just that, a summary. The information that it will actually contain covers just 3 areas:
Any current repeat medications you may be taking,
Any adverse reactions you may have had to medicines in the past and
Any allergies you may have.
These three areas of information are critical to anyone who may be treating you away from your home clinical practice. If you are taken ill whilst holidaying or visiting relatives in the UK and require medical attention, it is important for the professional treating you to know what medicines you are currently taking, if you are allergic to anything they are likely to treat you with or prescribe for you and whether you have been unable to tolerate certain medicines in the past. Having this information available will improve the quality of care they are able to provide for you and should therefore hopefully lead to a speedier recovery.
Will this information be available to everyone? No. The NHS has it’s own secure network within the internet which is only accessible to members of NHS staff, and this access is further limited by the use of Smart Cards which dictate whether an individual is able to access your information or not. Your Summary Care Record will only be available to the clinical staff treating you and to a small number of administrative staff who may need to view it and each time it is accessed, the person accessing it and the reason for that access are recorded so use of your records can be traced should any queries arise. NHS staff are bound by and adhere to a strict code of conduct and information governance rules which state that the use of information should be strictly on a need to know basis, the minimum possible and only when absolutely necessary.
So is the prospect of having a Summary Care Record frightening? The information it provides is there to help us help you so please think twice before you fill in that form
It is now possible to add additional information to your summary care record so if you suffer from a long term illness or if there is other information you feel healthcare workers should be aware of if they have a need to treat you, this can be added by your health centre.
More information on Summary Care Plus can be found here:
Summary Care Record Information Leaflet
Summary Care Record Opt-Out Form