Missing the point(s)?
There are a number of slightly different issues around the SCR, as far as I am concerned as a GP interested in Health Informatics, and the situation is complex.
The recent outcry is partly due to a sudden decision at the end of February that DH/CfH will fund the sending out of the Patient Information (to every patient age 16 or older) **provided the information leaflets are sent out before the end of March**. The funding involved is considerable - so SHAs and PCTs would be accused of wasting resources if they did not seize the opportunity.
The prohibition on including an opt-out form in the patient packs is an added reason for concern, as many PCTs had planned, is also causing concern.
(there is a strong suspicion that the imminent election and possibility that an incoming government might stop the whole SCR has something to do with this unseemly haste)
Then there is the content of the SCR: there does seem to be mission creep - and a very fast creep at that!
Initially, the SCR would have resembled the Scottish ECR: medication and adverse reactions/allergies recorded in the GP record: then an enhanced SCR, where individual items were uploaded after consultation between patient and GP, and opt-out would only be after a face to face consultation with the GP.
After it was pointed out that this would mean an additional 50 million GP consultations just to get the SCR established, the plans changed to a "consent to view" model (i.e. everyone would have a SCR but no-one would be allowed to look without explicit consent) and an enhancement program based on a template displayed in each participating GP surgery.
I agree with Old Codger - there is absolutely no guarantee that the GP record will be complete and accurate - any more than there was when records were paper-based: the major problem is that information whether true or false - is very retrievable in electronic records.
This causes a problem when data is shared between organisations as you just do not know how good the information is.
Medication - particularly repeat medication - is likely to be accurate: allergies probably: then a declining order - especially if the event happened before EPRs or elsewhere.
Then there is the usefulness of the SCR.
To be really useful, there needs to be good coverage of the population likely to present in unscheduled care situations (OOH, A&E etc), otherwise there is no reason for the providers (OOH, A&E etc) to install the systems and change the ways of working to be able to use the SCRs available.
Unscheduled care usually happens close to home: if you go on holiday, the chances are that you are in reasonable health - or carry information with you - when you set out, so unless there is uniform coverage across the whole of England (and you avoid Scotland and Wales) it would still be sensible to carry information with you when traveling.
Access would be by smartcard with RBAC (Role Based Access Control) - but there are a lot of people working in the NHS.
One doctor knows the medication prescribed for Gordon Brown and Alec Salmon: in an enhanced SCR he would have known a lot more - but it would be selected information, and almost certainly dangerously incomplete from the treating doctor's perspective...
The NHS is also in financial trouble: I am not sure that this project will release funding and increase efficiency.
Ross has a lot of good points