Patients ‘to see all care records in four years’

Patients will be able to access all of their health records including those held in hospitals at a click of a button under new plans unveiled today.

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All patients will be able to see their GP records online next year but officials say they want people to be able to see all hospital, community, mental health and social care records by 2018.

These will detail every GP and hospital visit, prescription, test result, adverse reaction and allergy to drugs.

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Patients will also be able to record their preferences and thoughts alongside official medical notes, with a key focus on end-of-life care. The personal child health record, known by many as the red book, will also go digital.

NHS officials say the approach will improve the quality of care and outcomes of treatment. It should mean patients will only need to relay details of their problems once, improving co-ordination of care in particular for people with complex conditions.

They claim the changes will save cash, making a contribution to £22 billion in savings it is estimated are needed to sustain the NHS by 2020. The ambitious timescale comes despite major problems which have typically gripped IT projects in the NHS, wasting billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “I want the NHS to be a world-class showcase of what innovation can achieve. Today’s plan sets out how we can give patients 21st century, personalised healthcare.”

Tim Kelsey, national informatics director at NHS England, said: “We must embrace modern technology to help us lead healthier lives, and if we want to take more control when are ill.

“New mothers will now be able to carry their red book around with them on their smart phone and tablet. This will put an end to worrying about leaving your child’s information at home when going for a review, vaccination, or emergency treatment.”

Officials also say a framework will show how real-time information will be available to paramedics, doctors and nurses to ensure patients receive safe and effective care, removing the limitations of paper records by 2020.

England’s chief nurse Jane Cummings said: “The practical application of technology on the frontline will allow our nurses and other health-workers to concentrate on what is important – giving meaningful and compassionate care to patients. Being smarter with data and technology has the potential to make a world of difference to patients, while ensuring best value for the taxpayer.”

Prof John Newton, chief knowledge officer at Public Health England, added: “Digital technology and innovation has the potential to not only revolutionise the NHS but also how individual’s approach and manage their own health and wellbeing.”