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CQC Essentials: Summary Care Records (SCRs)

The CQC will see evidence of use of summary care records as an indicator of a practice's efforts to improve patient safety and quality of care.

This article relates to the CQC key questions: Is your practice effective? and Is your practice well-led?

The SCR Programme, now part of the Health and Social Care Information Centre, has taken heed of concerns. SCRs are becoming established as a way to share clinical information for patients presenting away from the GP surgery with urgent or emergency care needs.

The GP contract, agreed in November 2013, stipulates that: 'From 1 April 2014 GP practices are required to provide an automated upload of their summary information on at least a daily basis to the Summary Care Record, or have a published plan in place to achieve this by 31 March 2015.'

Working with GP IT system suppliers and with GP practices across England, the SCR Programme aims to create an SCR for every person in England, except for those individuals who exercise choice not to have an SCR (just over 1% of the people contacted). To date, SCRs have been created for almost 48.6 million people (85.4% of the population); the numbers continue to grow week-by-week.

Core information in the SCR consists of:

  • details of medications (including long term, acute and discontinued medications),
  • allergies, and
  • adverse reactions.

This information is uploaded onto the secure National Spine infrastructure where it can be accessed electronically on a strict ‘need to know’ basis by healthcare workers providing urgent or emergency care to patients anywhere in England at any time of day or night. Access is via a SMARTCard with the appropriate role-based access controls (RBAC) and all accesses are auditable.

The SCR can contain additional information, if both the patient and GP believe that this would be of benefit, for example;

  • information about management of long term conditions, end of life or mental health care plans, or
  • specific information about the patient’s understanding of their condition and their expectations.

Benefits for patients, for clinicians and improved efficiency of clinical services are being reported from care settings (including GP out-of- hours services, hospital emergency departments and assessment units). Recent figures show that almost 30,000 SCRs are being viewed every week in care settings where patients present for urgent and emergency care.

This number is increasing week-on-week as knowledge increases about the benefits and more provider organisations work with the SCR programme to implement the technology and train their staff.

CQC will see evidence of use of SCRs as an indicator of an organisation’s efforts to improve patient safety and quality of care.

  • Professor Nigel Sparrow is senior national GP advisor and responsible officer at the CQC

More CQC resources

Picture: iStock

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