The government has bowed to pressure from the British Medical Association to suspend the launch of the controversial NHS patient summary care record in some areas of England.

In December, the Department of Health announced that the roll-out of the SCR – under which a summary of patients’ medical data, including information on allergies and treatments, is uploaded to a national database, unless they opt out of the scheme – would be accelerated in some areas of the country.

But last month, the BMA called for suspension of the programme on “serious concerns” that the process is happening too quickly, particularly as GPs were reporting the rushed implementation of the scheme was leaving them with little time to support patients in making informed choices, and that, in some instances, records were being created “without even implied consent from patients”.

Now, the Association has welcomed an assurance by the DH that records will not be uploaded in areas subject to accelerated roll out until there is greater public and professional awareness.

“This is a positive step,” noted Dr Grant Ingrams, Chairman of the BMA’s GP IT Committee. SCRs “have the potential to improve healthcare for patients if implemented appropriately”, and thus the Association will want to work with government in future to ensure that the many concerns of patients and doctors are listened to and addressed, he said.