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Local NHS Trusts play a key role in putting patient information in the hands of paramedics and mental health nurses

29th November 2018

NHS Digital has taken a crucial step towards a more joined-up health and care system with the launch of the new National Record Locator Service. Local clinical and IT professionals from across Lancashire and South Cumbria have played a key role in making this possible in our area.

Launch of the National Record Locator Service 

The National Record Locator Service will enable triage personnel such as mental health nurses and paramedics, who are called to a patient in distress, to find out whether a patient they are treating has a mental health crisis plan.

This will enable them to transport that patient to a more appropriate care setting than A&E or offer alternative, community-based care as indicated in the crisis plan.

This will not only improve patient safety and mental health outcomes, but it will also reduce duplicate care costs (within A&E and mental health services) and improve staff safety. 

The service is being piloted with North West, North East, Yorkshire and London Ambulance Services – working with their local mental health trusts; Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Humber NHS Foundation Trust, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Trusts in Lancashire and South Cumbria are connecting to the record locator through their health information exchange, which is a mechanism to give frontline staff access to a person's health record when and wherever they need it.

The impact for people in Lancashire and South Cumbria

The National Record Locator Service will alert the North West Ambulance Service that a person is known to the mental health crisis care team and will provide contact details for more information.

Dr Amanda Thornton, Clinical Lead for Digital Health across Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “As a psychologist, I know that people find having to repeat their stories frustrating and intrusive so having instant access to patient information can be powerful and potentially lifesaving in an emergency. A good example of the impact that sharing records can have is an unconscious patient in A&E; shared records save vital time, helps make better decisions about the care needed, and avoids unintentional errors occurring.”

"Many patients assume that sharing information for care already happens, but a lot of hard work has taken place across Lancashire and South Cumbria to make sure we are connecting up all services that provide care across our communities, with Mental Health Services and the Councils set to safely share critical information.

“We also need to assure people that the information is secured and can only be viewed by the health or care professional to help make better decisions regarding the patients immediate care needs. 

“Finally, it is also important to mention that sharing records is only a small part of how we need to use digital and technology to empower people, support health and care staff on the frontline and create a future which is about harnessing the creativity of our workforce and encouraging innovation.” 

Declan Hadley, Digital Lead for Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: "The work of our IT staff behind the scenes has given first responders and other frontline staff immediate access to critical information. This  will ensure people in crisis get the right care from the outset.  It’s great to see local and national teams working together for a common cause. Now this is up and running, we will be working closely with colleagues in Cheshire and Mersey and Greater Manchester to link together relevant systems."

The national perspective

Dr Gareth Thomas, who leads the Integrating Care Programme at NHS Digital, said: “The record locator represents a fantastic opportunity for health and social care information to be available at the fingertips of frontline health and care staff, wherever they happen to be.

“The service will integrate information right across the sector and will allow organisations to collaborate more closely. Direct access to records at the point of care delivery will bring huge benefit for patients, front line teams, and the wider NHS. It is a brilliant example of new technology meeting the demands of a modern and forward-thinking NHS.”

Hadleigh Stollar, Integrating Care Programme Manager at NHS Digital, said: “This is a critical milestone in the journey towards patient centred, integrated care...Fundamental to this success has been the outstanding collaboration between NHS Trusts, system suppliers and the dedicated team at NHS Digital and I am personally grateful to everyone who has worked tirelessly to make this a reality”.

The scope of the National Record Locator Service will evolve over time but demonstrating the capability through this pilot is an important step in assisting NHS organisations in their plans to move towards better integrated care models.

Ross Fullerton, Chief Information Officer at London Ambulance Service, said: "We respond to nearly 3 million 999 and NHS111 calls every year. Providing our clinical staff with up-to-date information about the patients they are treating - whether that is on the phone, on scene or online - helps us to deliver the highest quality of care to those that need it most. The work we have delivered with NHS Digital and mental health trusts on the National Record Locator Service will help us to access the right information about our patients when it’s needed." 

Future plans for the National Records Locator Service

The next phase of development will continue integration with other areas leading on local health and care record sharing before a full roll-out across the NHS.

From summer 2019, the 4 ambulance trusts involved in the pilot will also be able to view crisis care plans directly. Future plans include extending the service to cover end of life care, child health, maternity and cancer. 

Source: NHS Digital

Our Digital Future

The Lancashire Person Exchange Service is part of Our Digital Future, the digital strategy for Lancashire and South Cumbria.

For more information, please visit www.healthierlsc.co.uk/digitalfuture or follow us on Twitter @healthierlsc #HLSCDigital

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