Holding summary care records on the spine will deliver very significant benefits for safety and the efficient management of national health services. Patients whose record was not held on the spine, and who might need to be treated in the absence of knowledge of existing conditions, earlier treatments, and medications, would not receive the same quality of care as others.
Patients who are concerned about their records being shared by other clinicians involved in their care will be able to choose to have the clinical information in their spine record flagged so that no-one can see it without their express permission.
No action can or should be taken against patients who object to having their records stored on the spine. But some records need to be kept on the spine for all NHS patients and this is not a matter on which patients will be offered choice. However, this does not apply to all records and patients do have a qualified legal right under section 10 of the Data Protection Act 1998 to have objections considered. The Department will shortly be consulting on how best to give effect to this right in relation to the spine and other new IT systems and applications.