The spine is the colloquial name given to the national database of key information about patients’ health and care which forms the core of the NHS care records service, and which, from later this year, will begin to hold summary care records. Detailed patient records are created, and can be held electronically, in a variety of national health service organisations, depending on where patients have received treatment. They are accessed locally, and will not, unlike summary records, be uploaded on to the spine.
It will be open to individuals to choose not to have a summary care record through discussion with their general practitioner (GP). General practices will be responsible for entering care records on the system, and by the time the summary care record is introduced in local areas general practitioners will have been provided with guidance on what they need to do to respond to requests. GPs will be advised to record and act on patient preferences.
We believe that holding summary care records on the spine will deliver very significant benefits for safety and the efficient management of NHS services, improving healthcare outcomes for millions whilst preventing thousands of unnecessary deaths. Inevitably patients whose record was not held on the spine, and who might need to be treated in the absence of knowledge of the information they contain, would not receive the same quality of care as others.