Headlines: September 26th, 2002

Doctor in training are being given smart cards to streamline the administrative process when they move the next post. The cards will radically reduce the time taken to carry out initial checks on doctors, make the process more reliable and reduce costs.The smart cards, which include a photograph of the holder, record pre-employment check data such as the results of police checks, General Medical Council registration numbers, contractual details, together with occupational health and immunisation records. Card holders can request a paper print-out of the data on their card for validation or for updating. Data will be transferred at regular intervals to a central database to provide a secure back-up. If a card is lost or stolen a new card can be reissued using the stored current data.

Some 30,000 doctors in training will be issued with the cards by 2004 and the card may be extended to other groups within the health service.

The smart card complements the Electronic Staff Records system which will shortly be piloted in 40 NHS organizations and is due to be rolled out nationally in 2005.