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The Department of Health is setting up a new organisation to oversee the scope of the clinical content in the NHS Summary Care Record (SCR). An SCR is an electronic patient record that sums up all of the data collected in the course of all an individual's treatments by the NHS.

The new body will be known as the Summary Care Record Content and Advisory Board and is intended to consider proposals by the SCR programme board to change the scope of the SCR.

"At the first meeting it is expected the board will agree its precise terms of reference and the detailed process it will follow to arrive at its decisions," a spokeswoman for the department said.

A launch date has not yet been decided, but the recruitment process for a person to chair the board is currently underway. Once the chair is appointed, people on patient representative groups and clinical professional bodies will be invited to join the board.

The decision to set up the new organisation was taken after a ministerial review into the SCR in October 2010. The review recommended that new arrangements should be introduced to take responsibility for the scope of the content of the SCR.

In addition, the review said that "as a principle, any change to the scope of the record must be driven by citizens and patients, with appropriate advice from the professions and tempered by the IT capability".

More than 15 million patients already have an SCR and the department said it is working to increase SCR creation and viewing. Feedback suggests that clinicians and patients believe the SCR has an important role to play in improving patient care and safety in urgent and emergency care, it said.

"As further SCRs are created, clinicians in urgent and emergency care will gain confidence that the records will be available and be inclined to use them to support the delivery of care," the spokeswoman said.

"We would like clinicians to be able to be view a patient's SCR, when it is appropriate for them to do so, so that the benefits to patient safety and care can continue to be realised, including more informed and appropriate prescribing, reduced medication errors, greater clinician confidence when caring for patients and improved support for patients who may have problems communicating."

Victor Fraga, senior health analyst at Kable, said: "The SCR is just one small piece in the large care record jigsaw. Currently, the scope of the SCR is very limited, as it only holds data about allergies, blood type and major surgery.

"But this scope needs to be increased so that the SCR can make a real impact on improving patient care, data sharing and achieving efficiency savings."

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.

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