NHS care records project to get clinical head

NHS Connecting for Health has created a new clinical director role to oversee the introduction of the controversial summary care records, a key element of the £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

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NHS Connecting for Health has created a new clinical director role to oversee the introduction of the controversial summary care records, a key element of the £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT).

The move is aimed at boosting the profile of clinicians in the leadership of this part of NPfIT, which has come under fire from doctors.

The summary record, containing basic health information on patients, is aimed at providing key details to support emergency healthcare.

But the British Medical Association has repeatedly raised concerns about patient consent and the confidentiality of the electronic records, which are to be uploaded to a national data “spine”.

The BMA’s annual conference in June agreed a policy of non-cooperation with the proposed centralised storage of all medical records, due to concerns about security and confidentiality.

Last month, the BMA wrote to health minister Ben Bradshaw calling for a halt to the roll-out of the summary care record until the results of pilot schemes have been reviewed.

So far only four of the six planned pilot areas for the summary record have been named.

MPs on the Commons health select committee also criticised the "worrying lack of progress” on implementing local systems to support the planned National Care Record Service that will be made up of the summary record and – eventually – a detailed care record for each patient.

Connecting for Health said the new position was “further evidence” that its recently formed office of the chief clinical officer was “putting clinical leadership at the centre” of the IT agency.

Dr Gillian Braunold, currently clinical lead for the summary care record early adopter programme, has been appointed to the post. She is expected to focus on strategic development, implementation and clinical engagement for the summary record and the online “HealthSpace” aimed at giving NHS patients a view of their own records.

Braunold joined the NHS computer agency in 2004 as national clinical lead for GPs and continues to work as a GP on a part-time basis.

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