What is the Summary Care Record?
The NHS in England is using an electronic record called the Summary Care Record to support patient care. All the settings where you receive healthcare keep their own medical records about you.
These places can often only share information from your records by letter, fax or phone. At times, this can delay information sharing and this can affect decision making and slow down treatment.
About your Summary Care Record
Your Summary Care Record contains important information about any medicines you are taking, any allergies you suffer from and any bad reactions to medicines that you have previously experienced.
Allowing authorised healthcare staff to have access to this information will improve decision making by doctors and other healthcare professionals and has prevented mistakes being made when patients are being cared for in an emergency or when their GP practice is closed.
Your Summary Care Record also includes your name, address, date of birth and your unique NHS Number to help identify you correctly.
You may want to add other details about your care to your Summary Care Record. This will only happen if both you and your GP agree to do this. You should discuss your wishes with your GP practice.
Healthcare staff will have access to this information, so that they can provide safer care, whenever or wherever you need it, anywhere in England.
Who can see my Summary Care Record?
Healthcare staff who have access to your Summary Care Record:
- need to be directly involved in caring for you
- need to have an NHS Smartcard with a chip and passcode
- will only see the information they need to do their job and
- will have their details recorded every time they look at your record
Healthcare staff will ask for your permission every time they need to look at your Summary Care Record. If they cannot ask you (for example if you are unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate), healthcare staff may look at your record without asking you, because they consider that this is in your best interest.
If they have to do this, this decision will be recorded and checked to ensure that the access was appropriate.
Where is the Summary Care Record used?
Your Summary Care Record can be viewed in a number of healthcare settings to provide clinical staff with relevant information that can improve the care you receive. For example this could be if you're visiting a walk-in centre or minor injuries Unit; using a GP out-of-hours service, admitted to hospital or attending A&E.
Examples of the types of scenarios where this could happen are below:
What are my choices?
You can choose to have a Summary Care Record or you can choose to opt out.
If you choose to have a Summary Care Record and are registered with a GP practice, you do not need to do anything as a Summary Care Record is created for you.
If you choose to opt out of having a Summary Care Record and do not want a SCR, you need to let your GP practice know by filling in and returning an opt-out form (PDF, 245.9kB). Opt-out forms can be downloaded from the the website or from your GP practice.
If you are unsure if you have already opted out, you should talk to the staff at your GP practice. You can change your mind at any time by simply informing your GP practice and either filling in an opt-out form (PDF, 245.9kB) or asking your GP practice to create a Summary Care Record for you.
Children and the Summary Care Record
If you are the parent or guardian of a child under 16, you should make this information available to them and support the child to come to a decision as to whether to have a Summary Care Record or not.
If you believe that your child should opt-out of having a Summary Care Record, we strongly recommend that you discuss this with your child's GP. This will allow your child's GP to highlight the consequences of opting-out, prior to you finalising your decision.