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DHSC aiming to introduce shared care records within just three months

by Jess Hacker
23 June 2021

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Each Integrated Care System (ICS) will have a basic shared care record in place for GP practices and hospitals by the end of September 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said.

The commitment, which featured in the draft of the DHSC’s new NHS data strategy (22 June), comes as part of an effort to link general practice and hospital trusts, to achieve ‘comprehensive record sharing by 2024’ as outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan.

The draft strategy said that introducing shared care records would mean authorised staff for other care partners can ‘easily and appropriately access data’ regardless of where care is being delivered.

‘We want to move towards a world where every doctor, surgeon, district nurse, pharmacist, allied health professional, and social care worker could draw information from, or put information into, what feels like the same shared care record, in a safe and straightforward way,’ it said.

Practices need ‘sufficient time and headspace’

Peter Maynard, practice business manager for Horfield Health Centre in Bristol, said that the commitment ‘will have a beneficial impact’ but that he was sceptical about the ambitious time frame the Government proposed.

He said that the responsibility for communicating the move to shared care records to patients lies with NHS England ‘as a whole’, but that GP practices and all relevant NHS services should be ‘warned in advance what is going to happen’.

Mr Maynard stipulated that practices and other providers must be ‘given sufficient time to process that and be ready for a deluge of enquiries they are going to get’.

‘It’s about making sure there is sufficient time to do these things, and sufficient headspace,’ he said.

‘The demand levels across all parts of the health system, not just primary care, are off the scale. And what worries me [about the time frame] is that it’s not going to meet up properly, and the messaging will go wrong somewhere.’

The ambitious new plan follows NHS Digital’s decision to delay its mass GP data extraction until September, after it was suggested that patients were not given enough notice to opt-out of the scheme.

Mr Maynard, who is also a regional representative for the Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM), expressed concern about how the new shared care records would work in areas that have similar, well-established systems in place already.

Reducing ‘data burden’ on staff

Meanwhile, the DHSC committed to creating a ‘system-wide target for the rationalisation of data collections’ by 2021/22, in the interest of reducing the ‘data burden’ on staff.

It said that by moving from manual to automated data collection, staff can spend more time with patients and service users.

Freeing up staff time and ‘understanding where we have the right levels of data collection means we can prioritise the areas where we urgently need more data, for example across adult social care’, it added.

The Data Alliance Partnership – convened by NHSX to agree principles on data collection, and which was announced last November – will set up ‘sharp, measurable targets’ to achieve this aim.

The DHSC said it will also:

  • determine a data collection structure which ‘reduces the burden over time’
  • report progress to the Health Secretary, working on behalf of the whole system
  • prevent ‘collection creep’, meaning new collections may not be mandated if it does not agree to list them
  • encourage data sharing
  • communicate this work with colleagues.

‘Clinicians can be asked to record every instance of a particular procedure, or managers to pull together counts of bed or care home occupancy,’ it said.

‘This is important to make sure the right information is collected, but we need to do so in a smarter, more efficient way.’


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