Summary Care Records hold a snapshot of vital information about patients: their name, address, date of birth, current medication, allergies, and any previous reactions to treatment. This could make the difference between life and death in an emergency.
The records can be accessed by authorised health professionals treating the patient, such as out-of-hours GPs, nurses in minor injuries units, and some hospital staff.
For example, if someone from Kent or Medway is admitted to hospital in another part of England, perhaps as a result of a car accident, emergency services staff could quickly check their record for information about their health and medicines.
Nationally, 16 million Summary Care Records have been created, including the million in Kent and Medway. Almost 60 per cent of Kent and Medway's 1.7m people have their own record, which makes Kent and Medway one of the leading areas in the country for uploading the necessary data.
More than 80 per cent of people registered with a GP in Kent - and 100 per cent in Medway - have been offered the chance of having a Summary Care Record.
They are being introduced across the country as part of the Government’s drive towards electronic patient records. A record will be created for all patients registered with a participating GP unless they choose to opt out of the scheme.
Patients can ask for additional information to be added about any existing medical conditions which might affect their treatment.
Dr Peter Green, Co-Medical Director of NHS Kent and Medway, said: “Passing the one million mark is a huge milestone for this project, which is making a real difference to the care that people receive.
"As well as the obvious benefits for people who may be too badly injured or too seriously ill to tell A&E staff about their medication or previous reactions, Summary Care Records can be of great assistance to health professionals working in different settings - such as walk-in centres, and out of hours GP services.
"It is essential for those prescribing medication to know what patients are already taking and what medication they may be allergic to, but it can be very hard for people, particularly those with a number of conditions, to remember the name and dose of every tablet.
"We have already seen dozens of examples in Kent and Medway of people getting better care because the Summary Care Record supplied information that the clinician needed.
"The more patients who have a summary care record the more opportunities there are for patients who need unplanned care to be given the best possible treatment, quickly and efficiently.”
Liz Pearce, Lead Medicines Management Pharmacy Technician, Medway NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The ability to access details of medicines and allergies could be life-saving and could certainly avoid any adverse reactions arising from the wrong medicines being administered in the wrong doses.
"This could be particularly important for patients with conditions such as diabetes or heart disease and for those who may be unable to communicate clearly about their current medication.”
The data held on the summary care record also allow clinicians, including GPs, ambulance staff, emergency health teams and pharmacists to work more efficiently and confidently when treating people in emergency situations.
More patient records will continue to be uploaded over coming months.
Members of the public with questions about the Summary Care Record can contact their local PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) on 0800 085 6606 (NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent), 0800 0 850 850 (NHS West Kent) or 0800 014 1641 (NHS Medway) for more information.
30 July 2012