Headlines: December 9th, 2003

Every National Health Service patient in England will have an individual electronic record by 2010. The announcement came as the Department of Health signed a 10-year, 620 million pound contract with BT to set up and run the national NHS Care Records Service, which will provide the infrastructure to support the revolution in health and care information.The new service will provide all 50 million NHS patients with individual records detailing key treatments and care within either the health service or social care. It will mean that for the first time, information about patients will be mobile rather than remaining in filing stores in the buildings where treatment or care has been received. The scheme will connect more than 30,000 GPs and 270 acute, community and mental health NHS trusts in a single, secure national system. The care records are expected to cut time wasted by health service staff and patients who turn up for appointments only to find that their records are not ready or are in the wrong place in the hospital or clinic.

Two further contracts have been awarded to the Local Service Providers in the North East and London regions, which will deliver essential infrastructure and connect to existing systems in the NHS. They will underpin the delivery of both the NHS Care Record and the Electronic Booking Service, which was announced in October this year.

BT has been awarded a 10-year contract, worth 996 million pounds to provide systems to access and use the service and IT support at a local level in the London region. Accenture has been awarded a 10-year contract, worth 1099million pounds, to provide systems to access and use the service and IT support at a local level in the North East region. Further LSP contracts will be awarded by the end of the year for the remaining regions: North West & West Midlands, Southern and Eastern.

By the end of next year patients will begin to benefit from new NHS Care Records that will contain their basic information and health details. The information on the records will grow over time and eventually people will be able to access their Care Records, enabling them to be more involved in making decisions about their own care and treatment.

The Health Secretary John Reid said the e-records system would make the NHS a truly responsive service and would revolutionise the way that information was accessed to ensure that vital information about patients would be available instantly to authorised health professionals.