Ever wondered why, when you visit your GP or hospital, they can’t see all your health and care information? And why you find yourself having to answer the same old questions over and over – about things like the medicines you take, the treatment you’ve had, and whether you have any allergies?
The simple answer is they all use different computer systems to record your details. And because these systems aren’t connected, the health and care organisations looking after you can’t see the information each other holds on you.
But that’s about to change with the introduction of the Birmingham and Solihull Shared Care Record – previously called the Health Information Exchange.
Our experience of working with COVID-19 has shown how important it is for the health and care professionals caring for a person to be able to see their information without delay when needed. The Shared Care Record will make a joined-up approach to health and care much more possible.
What is the Shared Care Record?
The Shared Care Record is a way of bringing together all your separate records from the different organisations involved in your health and care. It’s confidential and different to anything you might have heard of before.
It will let health and care professionals see relevant information about the care and treatment you’ve had across all services.
We know you only want to tell your story once when receiving care from any health or social care organisation across Birmingham and Solihull. That’s why we’ve developed the Shared Care Record.
Who will be able to look at my information – and what will they see?
The first phase of the Shared Care Record will allow health and care professionals to view appropriate information contained in:
- your GP practice medical record
- information from secondary care, including hospitals, mental health and community services
- radiology and pathology results
- maternity records.
Being able to see this information will help them give you the best care as quickly as possible without having to make phone calls or wait for other organisations to forward details on.
Some of their administrative and secretarial staff will also be able to see information so they can support the professionals. An example would be to send you an appointment letter.
All staff must follow the law on keeping your information confidential. Each time they look at your records this will be recorded to make sure they’re only looking at the right information, for the right reasons.
We’ll bring together information from GPs and allow it to be seen by health professionals in hospitals, including Emergency Departments. And we’ll add information from community and social care, ambulance and NHS 111 services.
We’ll carry on developing the Shared Care Record, allowing professionals across more health and social care settings to see information to support your care. We’ll also help services understand and find the best ways to meet people’s care needs.
There are strict rules around how we use your information. As part of this work, we’ll make sure it’s managed and viewed appropriately and in line with all legal requirements, including UK data protection legislation (DPA 2018 and superseding legislation). Official inspections, or audits, will check this is the case.
Which organisations are involved?
The organisations currently taking part in the programme are local health and care services:
- GP practices in Birmingham and Solihull
- Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
- University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
- Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust (including Forward Thinking Birmingham)
- Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
- The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Birmingham City Council
- Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council
- Birmingham Children’s Trust
- West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust
Health and care organisations in the neighbouring areas of Coventry and Warwickshire, and Herefordshire and Worcestershire will also be able to view your information for the purpose of giving you direct care should it be necessary.
What do I need to do?
You don’t need to do anything. For anyone aged 18 or over who is registered with a GP in Birmingham and Solihull, Coventry and Warwickshire, or Herefordshire and Worcestershire, the change will happen automatically when we switch on the Shared Care Record. We’re planning for this to happen in the next few months.
How does all this benefit me?
The benefits to you include:
- not having to repeat your details every time you need care
- better and, potentially, faster treatment as the professionals caring for you will be able to quickly see your records
- not having to explain your social care support to health professionals
- clinicians being able to see what medications you’re taking, what you’ve taken in the past, and if you have any allergies – making your treatment safer
- more effective treatment should you need care for COVID-19, thanks to the fast availability of information about any pre-existing conditions you might have and your medications.
Can I say no to this?
Yes – you have the right to object at any time. We don’t recommend this, as information that could be vital when you need health or social care support – for instance, during a visit to a hospital Emergency Department – might not be immediately to hand as a result.
Objecting will mean the services giving you care will be unable to view your records from other services.
However, the decision is entirely yours. If you do want to object, you can do so by emailing the central Shared Care Record team.
Please note, the Shared Care Record is different to anything you might have said no to before. So, if you don’t want your records to be available to view through it, you’ll need to object.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
You’ll find more information in the frequently asked questions. These will give you answers to some of the things you might still want to ask. They’ll also cover new developments with the Shared Care Record as and when they happen, explaining what these mean for you.
If you still have questions
If you’re unsure about anything, or have any questions we haven’t answered in the FAQs, please email us.
You can also contact us if you need this information in an alternative format, for example, braille, audio, easy read or your spoken language.
Our survey has now closed. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond and give their views. We’ll share your feedback with the Shared Care Record board and post updates here on any actions we’ve taken as a result.