Headlines: March 10th, 2008

Four areas of England are to pilot ways to link social care systems and NHS health care records. They will test how social care records can be tied into the Health Service’s Personal Demographics Service, to ensure both services are talking about the same patient.

The pilots are being seen as an important step towards users of social services and the health care system having to tell their stories only once rather than having to repeatedly give information about themselves to several professionals. The pilots will involve Cheshire County Council, the London Borough of Greenwich, Slough Borough Council and Torbay Care Trust.

David Johnstone, who chairs the Standards and Performance Network of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said the early adopters would need to demonstrate compliance with the information governance requirements for the NHS Care Records Service. They will work with social care systems suppliers and local health partners to ensure the work complies with the NHS Care Record Guarantee on patient confidentiality.

Mr. Johnstone said,“The aim of the scheme is to link social care systems to the NHS Care Records Service in a controlled way, working with a small number of‘ first of type’ sites, to enable full evaluation prior to a wider roll-out. The links, once thoroughly tested and evaluated, will be available for other authorities to deploy.”

The Department of Health’s Director General of Social Care, Local Government and Care Partnerships, David Behan, said the importance of the pilots was not about information systems but about giving the best possible care to people.“Social Care has very well developed electronic care record systems, but each Local Authority has developed them in their own way,” he said and added, “These pilots will help us to see what needs to be done to achieve consistency between Local Authority care record systems and then how to link these systems into the NHS national care record system.”