New medical initiative is well underway

Nick Lawson, North Tyneside GP and Chief Clinical Informatics Officer for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Picture by Gavin Duthie
Nick Lawson, North Tyneside GP and Chief Clinical Informatics Officer for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Picture by Gavin Duthie

The first steps towards a shared electronic health record for patients in Northumberland and North Tyneside is well underway.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and GPs are working to ensure for the first time that healthcare professionals working in urgent and emergency care settings can view a patient’s GP record, with their consent.

Almost all GP practices across Northumberland and North Tyneside have now signed up to the new gateway technology – known as Medical Interoperability Gateway (MIG).

It means when patients visit care centres or hospitals, clinicians can now view their GP record, with the patient’s verbal consent.

Nick Lawson, North Tyneside GP and chief clinical informatics officer at the trust, said: “Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals rely on good communication with their patients – and with each other – to provide the best care possible.

“By sharing records in this way, with the full consent of patients, means hospital colleagues, and others providing urgent or emergency care, will no longer have to wait for relevant information to begin treatment – the benefits for patient safety are very clear for all to see.”

By patients giving their consent for health professionals to view their GP record in different settings, doctors and nurses can now see current and past diagnosed conditions, current and past medications, any allergies and adverse reactions, test results, any recent encounters or visits to primary care, and up-to-date contact details.

Dr Alistair Blair, a GP in Morpeth and Chief Clinical Officer at Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We live in a technology-driven world and it is vital that the NHS keeps pace with developments in order to provide the safest and highest quality of care to patients.

“Creating a fully integrated electronic patient record forms a vital part of our vanguard ambitions for joining-up health and care services in Northumberland and we are delighted with the progress being made.

“The fact that hospital and other colleagues in secondary care now have the ability to view a patient’s GP record, with their consent, is a major step forward and the support from primary care to make this happen has been fantastic.

“In future, our vision is for all healthcare professionals to be able to work from the same shared electronic patient information so that they can not only view, but also input into one core central record which patients also have access to online and via their smartphones.”