NHS Digital launches new National Record Locator Service

NHS Digital has launched the National Record Locator Service to 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.

The service has been launched in beta and first use-case partners will be 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.

It 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.

NHS Digital said it 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.

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 enabled through a nationally supported and agnostic capability. 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”.

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.”

NHS Digital said the scope of the National Record Locator Service will evolve over time but demonstrating the capability through this first-use case is an important step in assisting NHS organisations in their plans to move towards better integrated care models. The next phase of development will continue integration with other Local Health and Care Record Exemplars before a full roll-out across the NHS.

Record retrieval for phase one sites is expected by summer 2019 and future use-cases include end of life care, child health, maternity and cancer.