Dorset will become one of the first areas to deploy an STP-wide shared care record, after signing a deal with Orion Healthcare.

Eight health and social care organisations across the region, led by Dorset county council, have agreed to fund a single “combined” digital care record across the sustainability and transformation partnership.

The contract with the New Zealand company is worth £7.8m over five years, funded from an existing NHS England integrated digital care fund allocation and contributions from local budgets.

It is the first known instance of a whole STP area signing a contract for a joint shared care record.

The record will pull information in real time from GP records, three county councils, three acute hospitals, a community and mental trust and, eventually, ambulance services.

Andy Hadley, ‎head of IT development at Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, said the shared record had been years in development and was a crucial test of greater regional collaboration.

He said: “This is the single biggest project that partners have had to work out together.

“If we couldn’t make this work then we couldn’t make collaboration work at all.”

Mr Hadley described the record as “the glue” that would hold the STP together by creating a single health and social care view of every person in the area. “It is an absolutely a fundamental enabler for the STP,” he added

Dorset’s STP has been described as one of the most advanced. Last week it was named as one of the nine areas likely to develop an “accountable care system” and may be one of the first to receive capital for its change proposals.

Progress on the record stalled last year, after an unexpected reduction in NHS England funding left a shortfall that needed to be met locally.

Mr Hadley said the partners had agreed to pay the difference and the record was not dependent on any additional STP funds.

Ben Chennell, a Weymouth GP and chair of the Dorset Care Record project board, said the record would allow health and social care staff to provide a much more “seamless delivery of care”.

A few parts of the NHS already have longstanding share cared records, most notably Hampshire, Leeds and Merseyside.

However, electronic patient information commonly remains in NHS organisational silos or is shared sporadically, and rarely with social care.

Ambitions to build a shared care records are included in many STPs, identified as a key to integrating health and care services.

However, like many digital projects outlined in STPs, shared records plans have often lacked detail or costing and, in many cases, depend on additional central funding.

Dorset will roll out its care record over two years, with the first view only, hig -level digital records covering GP, acute, mental health and community patient information available in September.

During the next two years the record will add clinical documents, social care records and by December 2018 out of hours and ambulance records.

Information covered will included health problems and diagnoses, prescribed drugs, blood tests, pathology and x-ray results, next of kin, carer details, hospital discharge letters and care plans.

People’s information will be uploaded to the care record unless they opt out, but clinicians and other practitioners will require explicit consent to access a person’s record.

Council chief executive Debbie Ward said the record would also eventually be accessible by patients, who will be able to add their own health and care information. She said: “The DCR represents a really exciting approach to digital engagement with people across the county and is a key element of our wider STP to improve the treatment of people’s health and reduce inequalities.”

The rganisations involved in the care record are: Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group; Dorset County Hospital Foundation Trust; Poole Hospital FT; the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals FT; and Dorset Healthcare Turst; Dorset county council; Bournemouth borough council; and the Borough of Poole.