Better access will help deliver better care and support

NHS clinical staff and social care professionals in Gloucestershire are teaming up to improve the way they share patient information.

Joining Up Your Information is a project led by family doctors, hospitals, community and mental health trusts and Gloucestershire County Council. It will make an agreed set of information from each organisation immediately available to health and care professionals from other local organisations using a secure, electronic system.

Historically, different NHS and social care organisations have developed a range of specialised electronic systems to store patient records. This means important information held in one part of the health and social care system might not be readily available to doctors, nurses and other health and social care professionals in others.

The new system will only be accessed by authorised clinical staff and social care professionals through their existing record systems.

Project leaders say providing a strictly controlled set of view-only details from each system will mean:

• More appropriate and safer care
• Fewer delays while telephone or written requests are submitted
• Fewer tests being repeated or carried out unnecessarily
• Patients won’t need to answer the same questions many times
• Clinical staff devoting more time to patient care, rather than chasing information from different sources
• Fewer unplanned hospital admissions and shorter stays in hospital
• A more effective and secure way to share information in a controlled manner

Dr Malcolm Gerald, a Gloucestershire GP and the clinical lead for information technology at the county’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, the organisation that funds NHS care locally, said: “Vital information should be made available to trained and qualified clinicians and social care professionals when and where it is needed – to support timely care.

“Often it will be in an NHS file or on an NHS computer system that isn’t available to the person delivering treatment.

“This could be information held at a GP practice that would be important for an out-of-hours GP, community nurse or hospital consultant to know.

“Joining Up Your Information will improve efficiency and the quality of care we provide.”

The project team will shortly be sending a letter and information leaflet to every patient aged 16 and over registered with a Gloucestershire GP practice.

These will explain the benefits of better information sharing and the importance of more joined up care across the NHS and social care sectors. It will also outline how people who do not wish to take part can opt out.

Partners in the Joining Up Your Information shared health and social care information project are:

• Gloucestershire GPs and NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group
• Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust
• 2gether NHS Foundation Trust
• South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust (including the out-of-hours GP service)
• Gloucestershire County Council social care.

The first phase of the system is expected to be live by autumn 2016.

For more information about the project visit