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Changes to health records in Scotland

Health News from Scotland

NHS clinicians will be able to find patient medical details much more quickly, with the introduction of an Emergency Care Summary (ECS) for every patient, Health Minister Andy Kerr said today.

The ECS is designed to allow NHS staff to find a patient's details much more quickly than is possible under current arrangements.

It will contain important basic information such as name, date of birth, CHI (Community Health Index) number, medication prescribed by a GP and any adverse reactions to prescribed medicines.

A leaflet - Your Emergency Care Summary - is being distributed to all 2.5 million households in Scotland with a further 400,000 sent to GP practices, primary and secondary care services.

The leaflet is the first in a series informing the public about the eventual transition to fully electronic health records.

Mr Kerr said:

" At the moment, although GPs have your details, it is difficult for other health workers to access them out of hours, or in an emergency.

_ This new shared record means that NHS staff who need it to look after you can get important information about your health, even if they can't contact your GP. Health workers will have a more complete picture of a patient's health and medical background.

_ The Emergency Care Summary might be important if you need urgent medical care when your GP surgery is closed, or when you go to an accident and emergency department.

_ In the future, all health records will be stored and linked electronically, and that will bring great benefits over the old paper files kept in different places and electronic records that are not linked up."

Douglas Sinclair, Chair of the Scottish Consumer Council, welcomed the wide distribution of the leaflet:

" Our research with the public has shown that people want to kept fully informed of how their personal health information is stored and shared. This leaflet drop is an important step in ensuring that people in Scotland understand what is happening and what their rights are in this area."

NHS staff will have to ask the patient's permission before they can look at the ECS, except in the event that the patient is unconscious or unable to give consent.

The staff that will be able to access the information will be:

  • doctors, nurses and receptionists in out-of-hours medical centres
  • staff at NHS 24 involved in the patient's care
  • staff in hospital accident and emergency departments

The ECS is stored electronically using the highest standards of security and can only be accessed by NHS staff using a password.

It will be possible to check who has looked at a patient's ECS. Patients can ask their GP to show them the information in their own summary.

If a patient does not want to have an ECS, they can ask their GP surgery to remove their details.



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