Patients wanting to opt out of the electronic summary care record should be able to do so without making an application in person, the Department of Health has said.

New guidance issued by the department’s Connecting for Health directorate says that patients should be able opt out using web forms or by post.

Previously patients had to discuss their objections in person with their GP as the DH wanted to ensure patients opting out were made aware of the implications for their future healthcare. 

Concerns misplaced

But a pilot in Dorset found these concerns were misplaced.

Clinical director of the summary care record programme, Dr Gillian Braunold said: “We have listened to our early adopters and decided we need to make sure there is an easier way to opt out than through a visit to the surgery.”

“While it is important that patients are given the opportunity to talk through options, we also want to make it as easy as possible for those who have already made up their mind.” 

The move follows previous attempts to make the system less complicated.

Spelling out the risks of opt out

The new form warns patients that if they opt out of the summary care record healthcare staff may not be aware of:

  • Their current medications and therefore safe and effective treatment
  • Any current conditions or diagnoses, which may lead to a “delay or missed opportunity for correct treatment”
  • Any allergies or adverse reactions to medications and so “may prescribe or administer a drug/treatment with adverse consequences”.