The NHS care records service was always intended to enable information to be provided when and where needed, irrespective of care setting, writes Jeremy Thorp
Clinicians working in primary care or community or ambulance services, for example, should have access to the information they need for delivery of clinical care.
The contracted NHS Connecting for Health suppliers are deploying solutions for this in each national IT programme region. Since the contracts were originally signed, however, there have been many changes to care provision - the increasing use of the independent and voluntary sector, for instance, and latterly the proposals around polyclinics.
From a technical design perspective, these are additional locations and organisations from which access to information is required, and can, at a technical level, be accommodated into the architecture with appropriate standards in place.
Policy is clear about appropriate information sharing. The issues are more about commercial aspects - whether these new organisations are additional to the original contract and, with each new organisation or location, whether the appropriate information governance controls are in place.
The contention is that CfH has set up a system that does not make information sharing with other bodies a straightforward task.
In one sense that may be true because it is the case that any new organisation or location does need to plan very carefully, particularly around the security and confidentiality aspects.
The important thing is to ensure that when planning support for new initiatives such as polyclinics, CfH does not create an over-bureaucratic process, but ensures the appropriate level of planning and management to deliver a secure, confidential, safe and effective care records service.
Jeremy Thorp, director of business requirements, NHS Connecting for Health