Patients ‘worried’ over lack of medical records sharing

Results of a recent survey suggest patients are ‘worried’ that hospital staff do not have access to their GP medical records and the potential impact on treatment.

According to the results of a poll run by healthcare information firm EMIS Group, 61% of people surveyed were concerned that a lack of data sharing between GPs and hospitals could result in medical errors in treatment.

Out of the 2,000 adults polled, 58% were not even aware that their GP medical records were not automatically available to hospital staff, with 30% saying they were ‘shocked’ that the practice of sharing data was not common place.

Chris Spencer, chief executive of EMIS Group, said many patients attending hospitals assume “those caring for them will be able to access their GP records at the click of the button” but “in most instances, A&E doctors either do without the records or need to phone the GP”.

“This can take a significant amount of time and, in the case of a seriously ill patient who can’t explain their history, the lack of information could potentially be life-threatening.”

 Some hospitals have started to prioritise the digitisation of medical records following health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s vow to have a “paperless” NHS by 2018.  

The Department of Health has given £1bn to the NHS “to make all patients’ records digital by 2018 so their information can be seen wherever they are treated, whether it is a GP practice, hospital or care home.”