National Health Service (NHS) patients will soon have access to their electronic health records as part of the government’s move to redesign the operation of the NHS around the needs of patients.
The electronic health records initiative involves an investment in information technology worth over £700m over the next three years.
Medical records hold information about patients’ previous and on-going treatments, current medication and allergies as well as future appointment dates.
The records are to be protected within a secure environment created with patient consent with changes made only by authorised staff.
By 2003, five million people will benefit from the scheme, and, by March 2005, every person in the country will have their own record.
Health secretary Alan Milburn said: “The NHS is still in the last century and investing in new technology will bring it into the 21st century.
“The electronic health record will help put patients in control and the investment we are making in information technology will help redesign the health service around the needs of its patients.”