• Coroner warns Jeremy Hunt for the second time over the state of patient record sharing in the NHS
  • Doctors not able to access patient’s GP records were not made aware of haemophilia diagnosis, report says
  • Previous report warned Mr Hunt that information on a patient was kept in “silos”
  • DH says 85 per cent of A&Es have access to summary care records

Jeremy Hunt has been warned for a second time about the potential harm to patients caused by the lack of patient record sharing in the NHS.

The assistant coroner for inner north London, Richard Brittain, sent a report to the health secretary warning “future deaths could occur [if] further action is not taken to facilitate secondary care access to GP records”.

Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Doctors at the Royal Free could not access a patient’s GP record

Mr Brittain first wrote to Mr Hunt in December 2015, saying: “I am concerned that the previous focus on access to medical records, which was to occur through the NHS Programme for IT, has been lost and that the new focus on patient access to GP records will not address the risks posed by the current state of record sharing within the NHS.”

Both of Mr Brittain’s reports, which have been seen by HSJ, relate to trusts in north west London.

The latest report, sent on 15 May, was written following the death of Steven Leven, who died at North Middlesex University Hospital Trust in December while undergoing surgery to treat a brain haemorrhage.

The report said Mr Leven was admitted to the emergency department for a large brain haemorrhage, but the neurosurgeon treating him could not access his GP records and was not alerted to the fact that he was being treated for haemophilia at Royal Free Hospital London Foundation Trust.

Mr Brittain also contacted the Department of Health in October 2015. Although the coroner concluded that Mr Leven’s death was not a direct result of the lack of access to his records, he warned in his May report: “This is related to an issue I raised with the Department of Health in October 2015… The response [from the DH] set out that access to the ‘summary care record’ was due to be implemented for ‘hospital acute admissions’ by March 2016.

“I am concerned that deaths could occur in future similar circumstances if further action is not taken to facilitate secondary care access to GP records.”

The DH said that by March 2016, 45 per cent of acute admissions units had access to summary care records and this rose to 85 per cent by May 2017.

“We expect all professionals in urgent and emergency care to be accessing SCRs routinely by next year,” the statement added.

In December 2015, Mr Brittain wrote to Mr Hunt following the death of Edward Gascoigne, who was admitted to the emergency department at the Royal Free Hospital after suffering from mental health related issues.

This report said the doctors treating Mr Gascoigne did not have access to his GP records and subsequently were not aware that his GP had already referred him to the community psychiatry team.

The coroner warned: “Multiple pieces of relevant information regarding Mr Gascoigne’s current illness were contained in disparate record ‘silos.’”