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Northumbria sets benchmark for emergency care records

Friday, 04 July, 2014
Northumbria sets benchmark for emergency care records

A team of national experts are working with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to see first-hand the Trust’s ground-breaking work to embed emergency care records and how this may benefit patients nationally.

Thousands of North East patients across Northumberland and North Tyneside have received safer and more efficient care since new electronic emergency care records were launched by Northumbria Healthcare just under a year ago.

Pharmacists, nurses and doctors at North Tyneside, Wansbeck and Hexham general hospitals have used Summary Care Records (SCRs) to support urgent care more than 21,000 times since the emergency care summaries were made available in December 2012.

Their pioneering use of the emergency records makes Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust the second highest user of SCRs in England, with only Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust viewing the records more frequently each week.

Dr Emyr Jones, national clinical lead for SCR, said: “Northumbria Healthcare is a shining example of how to make the most of this technology to improve care for patients.

“I, together with clinical and other colleagues from the national SCR programme will be spending time with Northumbria Healthcare’s pharmacists, doctors, nurses and IT staff, to learn as much as we can about how they’ve made such success of SCR.

“We’ll use what we’ve learned to support other hospitals nationally to mirror what Northumbria has achieved.”

Across the whole of the North East, more than 1.9 million people now have SCRs, which has made routine use of the emergency care summaries possible at hospitals, walk-in centres and GP surgeries in Northumberland, Tyneside, Teesside and County Durham.

SCRs provide clinicians with vital information from GP records about a patient’s allergies, medications and allergies to drugs using computers linked to a national network.

Their introduction at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust was led by clinical pharmacist Scott Barrett.

Scott said: “We believe that using SCRs improves patients’ experience of their care at our hospitals as well as reducing the risk of them missing doses of critical medicines or being prescribed inappropriate doses.

“SCRs provide the missing piece of the jigsaw when we’re gathering information to treat a patient, meaning their care is likely to be more effective.  They also help us to concentrate on the health problem which brought the patient in to hospital, rather than have to waste time chasing for information on any chronic condition they have.

“So, for instance, if we have a cancer patient admitted with a chest infection we can focus our efforts on treating the infection because SCR will help us to maintain the right medications for their long term cancer. This results in better treatment all-round.”

Patients in the North East were sent information on SCRs and their rights individually in a series of information campaigns between 2010 and 2012. Since then, local GPs have worked with local hospitals and IT specialists to make the records available to all patients who haven’t opted out of the initiative.

In addition to their use at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, the emergency records are also viewed at:

·         County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust

·         North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust

·         South Tees Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust

·         St Oswald’s Hospice in Newcastle & St Theresa’s Hospice in Darlington

·         12 urgent care centres, more than 10 out of hours centres and 65 GP practices

Dr Mike Prentice, medical director for the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear area team of NHS England, said: “We support Summary Care Records and their potential to improve the efficiency and safety of emergency and urgent care for patients across the north east.

“Technology has a vital role to play in enabling safer and high quality treatment to be achieved.

“It’s positive to see they are being used so frequently and with such positive outcomes at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and at other Trusts and care providers in our region.”