• NHS Digital expands shared care record pilot
  • Scheme enables ambulance staff to access mental health patients’ crisis plans 
  • 12 trusts involved in scheme so far

Paramedics will be able to access the records of mental health service users for the first time as part of a wider scheme that aims to allow clinicians to share care records across the country.

The initiative is led by NHS Digital, and is intended to help ambulance staff decide how and where service users would receive the best treatments instead of automatically taking them to hospitals’ emergency departments.

Last year NHS Digital launched a pilot which gave ambulance staff the ability to see whether a patient they were treating had a mental health crisis plan. The staff would then contact the crisis team responsible for the patient.

This was achieved by NHS Digital building a “national record index”, which was then integrated into participating trusts’ clinical systems. In November, the pilot will be expanded when paramedics are given access to the crisis plan itself.

The service, called National Record Locator, spans different health economies, meaning paramedics in London could, for example, access the crisis plan of a mental health patient from Lancashire if they become ill while visiting the capital.

Eight mental health trusts (South London and Maudsley, Lancashire Care, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership, Cumbria Partnership, Humber, Somerset Partnership, Mersey Care and Nottinghamshire Healthcare) and four ambulance trusts (North East, North West, Yorkshire and London) have signed up to the scheme so far.

The pilot’s expansion will also target better record sharing for community mental health nurses, children’s health teams and maternity services.

Speaking at the Health Excellence Through Technology conference earlier this month, NHS Digital programme lead Hadleigh Stollar said the scheme’s ambition is to enable “cross-border record sharing wherever you are across the country”.

Mr Stollar said working with Local Health and Care Record Exemplars (LHCRE) would be “really essential” to drive the programme forwards. These areas have been given extra funding to develop shared care record systems.

“LHCREs are fantastic for those areas and they enable record-sharing within their geography, but there’s still the need for that capability to enable cross-border record sharing wherever you are across the country, and that’s what we want to deliver,” Mr Stollar said.