The patient record and information systems created by NHS Connecting for Health will be a 'significant challenge' to the realisation of the vision for polyclinics.

The NHS Confederation said in a report published today that the way the Department of Health's IT arm has set up its systems means that it will be difficult to share the information between primary care, social care and the independent sector.

The report states: "The requirement for common systems and approaches implies that there should be one patient record and shared information systems.

"Unfortunately, NHS Connecting for Health was conceived in quite a different way and information sharing across the whole system - to include social care and independent providers - is a significant challenge."

The report dismissed claims that polyclinics have been proposed in order to cut costs but warned that they were inappropriate for some rural areas and that increased capacity in areas such as minor injuries or walk-in services could push up costs.

It argued that "continuity of information" was more important than continuity of care.

A Connecting for Health spokesman said its policy was that information should be shared, subject to any necessary consents and safeguards, but was not able to confirm how systems would work under the polyclinic model.