Initiative to allow paramedics to access mental health crisis plans

Paramedics will soon be able to access the mental health crisis plans of emergency patients while on the move, following the successful first pilot phase of the National Record Locator.

Initial tests of the service gave ambulance staff in pilot areas the ability to see whether someone they were treating had a mental health crisis plan, joining up services in the process.

The pilot will now expand, giving paramedics the crisis plan itself so they can make decisions on the ground instead of taking the patient to Accident and Emergency units or referring back to other health professionals who have access to the information.

Mike Walker, head of the integrating care programme at NHS Digital said: “This pilot has so far been a fabulous success, with over 85,000 mental health crisis plan pointers added to the database across the country since last December, so that ambulance staff are less in the dark about the people they’re on their way to help.

“Now we’ve proven that the technology works, it’s time to open it up, to new areas of specialism, new settings: putting the clinical information itself into the hands of those that need it.

“Our ambulance staff do a fantastic job, handling real-life emergencies every single day. Having access to the right information at the right time will mean fewer wasted trips to overstretched A&Es and better care for patients.”

The first full record retrieval will take place in November, with an additional three mental health trusts joining the nine trusts already involved with the first phase.

Stuart Crichton, chief clinical information officer at London Ambulance Service, said: “Our drive to get the user experience right is being brought to life by the team at NHS Digital. Our clinicians don’t have to worry about usernames and passwords to access patient information, the security is all taken care of in the background enabling us to focus on patient care. I love it, our staff love it and this technology will change the face of how we access data across the NHS.”

Rob Shaw, deputy chief executive of NHS Digital added: “This is another step on our journey to full integration of digital records, ensuring that front line staff in all settings have access to the records they need to continue delivering outstanding care.

“Services like the National Record Locator, NHS Identity and the Summary Care Record application have the potential to revolutionise the way that NHS staff work, supporting them to make more effective and timely clinical decisions, working alongside all the great, local projects also tackling the challenges around system interoperability.”

This next phase of the pilot will also see digital child health records shared by child health organisations and health visiting services, as care is transferred from one service to another. Pointers will be added for digital maternity services in successful pilot areas next year, flagging where expectant mothers are receiving care elsewhere. Mental health nurses will be able to access records when working in the community with the police, to promote joined up service provision and appropriate care.



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