Patients who will be the among the first in the district to have their health records transferred to a new computer system have seen at first hand how the technology works.

Bradford and Airedale Teaching Primary Care Trust is adopting the NHS Care Records Service and 40,000 patients in Bradford and Keighley have received letters about how the system works.

Instead of records being held by just one health organisation, the new summary care record will be available to any authorised NHS worker at the click of a mouse.

It will give health professionals up-to-date information about a patient so they get the right treatment in the quickest time.

The computer system will contain information about patients' health, such as allergies, current prescriptions and any previous bad reactions to medicines - but not their full medical record.

The Ridge Medical Practice in Great Horton, along with three Keighley practices - Farfield, Ling House Medical Centre and Holycroft - are the first to join the scheme and so far only a handful of patients have declined to take part.

Frances and Geoffrey Green, of Queensbury, are both patients of The Ridge Medical Practice, where Dr John Connolly believes the project is an important step in the development of electronic records which will help patients and health professionals alike.

Mr and Mrs Green, who are members of a patients' group at the surgery, were shown how the system works by Fintan Grant, senior project manager.

He explained how a smart card issued to NHS staff can be programmed with different levels of access, along with a pin number to allow authorised workers access to summary care records.

Access is only allowed if it is in the best interest of the patient and those using the system will leave an audit trail which can be monitored for any unauthorised access.

Patients can opt out of the system, but consent is implied if they do not respond to a letter informing them about the summary care record.

Patients can also ask for additional health information about themselves to be contained on their record if they wish.

Having seen the system in operation, Mr Green said: "I would recommend it to any patient. I am sure there will be people who are sceptical about it - it is fear of the unknown."

Mrs Green said: "I do not think that there is anything to be afraid of. It is a secure system.

"It is not about moving information about on discs, it is moving from a computer to a computer."

The tPCT will be offering support to ensure people understand their choices through local information points, drop-ins and linking with carers.

More information will be available from GP practices or on the NHS Care Records Service information line on 0845 603 8510.


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