Many patients are ‘shocked’ that lots of accident and emergency doctors do not have automatic access to their GP records, a poll suggests.
The majority are fearful that a lack of information sharing between family doctors and hospitals could lead to mistakes in their treatment, according to healthcare information specialist EMIS Group.
In some parts of the country systems have been streamlined so A&E staff have access to GP records, but in other parts of England the access is more fragmented.
The latest poll of more than 2,000 adults found that 58 per cent were unaware that many hospital doctors are not able to automatically access information from a patient’s GP medical record.
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And 30 per cent of those polled said they were “shocked” that this was not commonplace across all hospitals.
Meanwhile, 61 per cent feared that this could result in delays in treatment or medical errors.
EMIS Group chief executive Chris Spencer said: “Patients assume that when they go for urgent care in A&E, those caring for them will be able to access their GP records at the click of a button.
“While this happens in some areas, the reality is that in most instances A&E doctors either do without the records or need to phone the GP and/or ask for records to be faxed over. This can take a significant amount of time and, in the case of a seriously ill patient who can’t explain their history, the lack of information could potentially be life threatening.
“It’s little wonder that people are worried about this, especially when proven systems exist to securely and successfully share patient records.”
Last year health secretary Jeremy Hunt challenged NHS England to “go paperless” by 2018, meaning that patients will have digital records so their health information can follow them around the health and social care system.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “We’re giving the NHS £1bn to make all patients’ records digital by 2018 so their information can be seen wherever they are treated, whether it is a GP practice, hospital or a care home.”