§ Mr. Hutton
[holding answer 9 February 2004]: The national programme for information technology is responsible for introducing the National Health Service care record service (NHS CRS), which will lead to the NHS having an integrated, electronic record management service for the first time. The NHS CRS will provide each patient with a single, comprehensive set of electronic medical and care notes. This will enable all authorised clinicians involved with the care of a patient, to see and share health information. Local practices and hospitals will continue to hold detailed local records, but additionally a summary health record will be created containing essential data such as allergies, current treatments or medication.
The NHS CRS will also ensure that key data and information is entered only once and then available to multiple users and professionals who are authorised to access. It will support better clinical decision making, remove the need for repeat and potentially harmful tests simply because the previous record is lost or not available and improve the quality of the time spent with the patient.
The security and confidentiality of patient information is an absolute priority in the context of electronic records and transmissions. Within the contracts for new applications, systems and services being negotiated with IT suppliers are stringent terms around ensuring security, control, alerts and audit measures, including encryption. We will have a right to terminate the contract of any supplier that fails to deliver the high standards that NHS patients and professionals are entitled to expect.