back to article Report damns health records scheme

A detailed review of the Summary Care Record programme and HealthSpace - its related "portal" - by University College London has found only "modest benefits" from the scheme. Researchers found records are not widely available, and where they are available they're not always accessed by doctors. Where doctors do access them …


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  1. Dances With Sheep
    Big Brother

    The letters sent out are very dodgey

    I ain't thick...... Yet I had to read my badly worded letter twice to realise WTF it was on about (putting our medical records on a national computer database). There was also no simple opt-out form attached, so I had to type, print and post my own reply opting out.

    No wonder the opt-out rate is so low. Especially when the letter tells us how wonderful the 'new system' will be without explaining any of the negatives. Ten quid says the database gets left on a laptop in the back of a taxi.

  2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    Fail & Waste of money

    My old practice already had all records electronic, including prescriptions. This particularly speeded up getting repeat prescriptions, and with less chance of error. The system included digital x-rays from the local hospitals. Also, it was possible to email repeat prescription requests and other things.

    It seems that my old practice had all the benefits of CfH at least 10 years ago!

    Since CfH started, they now receive x-rays by fax, because the different parts of the new system for digital x-rays do not work yet. The old record system will have to be thrown away, and the new one costs a lot of money.


  3. Dances With Sheep


    " My old practice already had all records electronic, including prescriptions. "

    I think you will find all these electronic records were held locally at your surgery , and not uploaded in any national (badly secured) database.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      Yes and Yes

      Sorry, I forgot to mention that. So to summarise:

      The system already had all the identified "benefits" of the new system,

      The system was already there with no millions of cost to put it in place.

      It just worked™ (including digital x-ray).

      Only about 20 people could get access to it, all logged and no burning it onto CDs, loosing it in the post or selling it to medical / insurance companies.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "its findings would be considered"

    Now if that isn't a Yes Minister moment I don't know what is.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    How many reg readers are thinking "Healthspace"

    What's that?

    Note the fact that the *real* (as opposed to the claimed) benefits are difficult to measure does not *necessarily* mean they were not worthwhile.

    The question would be how *much* of that £12.7Bn was spent on this part of the project.

    £10m would make it a pretty good ROI.

    £100m. Not that bad (in context of a £12.7Bn, which IIRC is roughly a 1005 overspend)

    £1Bn Taking the p£$s.

    I've not kept an eye on the details of the project. Perhaps someone can put a number on its share?

    But until I see otherwise.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Strange old world innit?

    Part of the problem may be exception handling in sense that partnership provisioning between various bodies either commissioned directly within NHS, or to partner organisations contracted by NHS or other organisations such as (huck-thwhoo) local authorities (sorry, I had to clear my throat a bit) makes for a complex set of potential circumstances in which data input inaccuracies probably increase exponentially.

    The granularity of the problem is quite large but the solutions do not seem to adress that robustly aiming for a much reduced subset of interactivity of doubtful integrity.

    (short response: public monies well squandered?)

  7. bogwoppit

    Local != National

    The EHR scheme aims to ensure that the benefits BristolBachelor describes are available whether he happens to get ill within his local area or not, and for everyone in the country. It's frankly embarrassing of the state of our healthcare that if you go to a hospital 10 miles down the road, the doctor won't know you're allergic to penicillin.

    The other thing that is never mentioned is the staggering potential benefit for healthcare research that EHRs open up. If there was no clinical benefit, it would be worth it just for this.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      @ bogwoppit

      "The other thing that is never mentioned is the staggering potential benefit for healthcare research that EHRs open up. If there was no clinical benefit, it would be worth it just for this." I'm not sure what you mean by this - I would still need to give informed consent to any use of my personally identifiable data. However, in a sense you are correct - centralised data would be just too tempting for dataminers, and you can almost guarantee that the government would find a way to make it legal to do it.

      Let me be clear - I don't necessarily have a problem with the concept of social responsibility. If you are benefitting from healthcare, you should consider yourself to have a duty to give something back. However, governments and insurance companies are likely to use such information to control their own risks, without taking into account the individual, because it is just a dataset. I maintain that personal data is just that - it belongs to the individual, who should have control over its use even if it stunts social advances.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        A lot of health-care related research is retrospective in nature consisting of audits and suchlike. Providing your data is adequately anonymised your consent is not currently required...

        1. Intractable Potsherd


          Something my research has been trying to come to terms with. A Professor of mine maintains that the protection is inadequate, and that "adequate anonymisation" isn't.

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