Feeds

Don't be alarmed - but 545,000 NHS patient files are going online

Not to worry, probably been lost on a USB stick already

Security for virtualized datacentres

NHS Oxfordshire is to put the medical records of around 545,000 people online in an effort to give healthcare professionals faster access to patients' information.

The Oxfordshire care records programme will be made up of two parts: the national summary care record (SCR) and the local Oxfordshire care summary.

The cost of the Oxford care summary for 2011-12 and 2012-13 would be around £1m, a spokeswoman for the trust, which is part of the Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire cluster, told Guardian Government Computing. The trust estimates that the SCR will cost in the region of £500,000 in total, with the expenditure shared between the primary care trust (PCT) and strategic health authority.

The SCR will hold a patient's basic medical information held on the NHS Spine, while the Oxfordshire care summary will pull in a temporary view of a patient's health information from separate health organisations across Oxfordshire so it can be accessed in one place, according to the PCT. The summary it creates will be a read-only record that can be accessed through an online portal.

"These secure electronic records will give healthcare professionals faster, easier access to reliable and accurate information about patients to help with their care, particularly in an emergency, or when seeing a doctor out-of-hours when the GP practice is closed," the trust's spokeswoman said.

"When a patient's records are not available to doctors outside normal GP surgery hours, the Oxfordshire care summary will improve patient care especially in more complex cases where the GP record may hold vital information not otherwise available, such as blood test results or drug side effects."

For the Oxfordshire care summary the trust plans to use a combination of an existing local system, named Casenotes, and a service that retrieves information called the Medical Interoperability Gateway (MIG), provided by Emis and INPS - the two main GP practice system suppliers in Oxfordshire.

A local development will be carried out to allow Casenotes to display information retrieved by the MIG from other systems. These will predominantly be GP practice systems to begin with.

Healthcare professionals with chip and pin NHS smartcards, who are directly involved in a patient's treatment, will be able to access the SCR, while access to the Oxfordshire care summary will be limited to healthcare professionals who are employees of organisations caring for NHS patients in Oxfordshire. NHS Oxfordshire said health staff will have to asked a patient's permission before their SCR can viewed.

"Control and monitoring of access to the data will be taken very seriously so we can assure patients that their information is only viewed when necessary for medical care. Unlike paper records, a detailed audit trail is generated every time a record is viewed," the trust's spokeswoman said.

At the start of April every patient registered at a GP practice in Oxfordshire aged 16 years and over will receive a letter outlining what care records are, and how the programme works. It will also give people the opportunity to opt-out. The creation of the SCRs for patients in the area is expected to start in August, with the rollout continuing until the end of April 2013. The Oxford care summary element of the programme has a launch date of early 2013.

In 2010, the government suspended the creation of the SCR in regions where it had planned for an accelerated implementation until more had been done to raise public awareness about the programme.

But in January 2011 the Department of Health (DH) confirmed that it had resumed sending "a small number" of SCR mailings to patients, and said it planned to fully resume the rollout at a later date. The DH followed this up by encouraging NHS organisations to get on with the creation of SCRs in October 2011.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.