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GP mythbuster 22: Summary Care Records (SCRs)

  • Organisations we regulate,
  • GP and GP out-of-hours services

Summary Care Records (SCRs) are now established as a way to share clinical information for patients presenting away from their GP surgery with urgent or emergency care needs.

SCRs – the current position

  • The SCR is an electronic summary of key health information sent from the patient’s GP record.
  • As a minimum, each SCR contains details of a patient’s medication, allergies and adverse reactions.  Information is updated in real time.
  • Over 55million people in England have a SCR – more than 96% of the population.
  • It is straightforward to implement viewing of SCRs by approved staff and does not require any significant capital funding.
  • About 80,000 SCRs are being viewed each week by healthcare workers providing direct care to patients in urgent and emergency care settings – that’s over 4.3 million SCRs viewed per year.
  • Viewing patient information in SCRs can significantly improve safety, quality and efficiency of care.

Viewing SCRs is becoming routine in many urgent and emergency health care settings and has been extended to elective and scheduled care settings. Their use in social care is being explored.

Recent developments mean it is now technically straightforward to enrich SCRs with additional information from the GP record.  This can include:

  • significant medical history
  • anticipatory care information (such as information about the management of long term conditions)
  • communication preferences
  • end of life care information
  • reason for medication
  • record of immunisations

NHS Digital explains how the SCR can be enriched and sets out considerations around capacity to consent and changes to consent status.

SCRs and personalised care and support planning

These developments in both the content and use of SCRs in England mean that essential care plan information can be viewed by authorised staff providing direct care to patients wherever in England they may present, any time of day or night.

In GP mythbuster 75 we discuss personalised care and support planning for people with long-term conditions and their carers. Health communities and multi-disciplinary teams implementing personalised care and support planning should consider SCRs in their planning. In addition, patients identified through case-finding and risk-stratification should routinely be asked by their GPs if they agree to the inclusion of additional information in their SCR.

When we inspect

We see evidence of use of SCRs as an indicator of a practice’s efforts to improve patient safety and quality of care. This relates to key line of enquiry E5: do staff have all the information they need to deliver effective care and treatment to people who use services?

The content of SCRs has developed in a way that enables better care across a range of settings. On our inspections we look for evidence that the content has been developed through the process of personalised care planning.

Last updated:
05 May 2021