NHS England targets digitisation of millions of GP records


NHS England is hoping to create a nationalised approach to the digitisation of “vital” decades-old medical records, HSJ can reveal.

The so-called Lloyd George paper records are stored by thousands of GP practices across England and described by NHSE as posing a risk to “person-centred care”. Many of the records are stored on GP premises and NHSE would like them to be digitised and stored in a cloud-based solution or in the GP practice’s IT system.

NHSE is now asking technology suppliers for input in shaping the project of digitising these records, ahead of launching a procurement for an open framework of companies from which clinical commissioning groups and sustainability and transformation partnerships/integrated care systems can buy solutions for digitising the records.

It hopes to launch the procurement in April – according to a notice published in the Official Journal of the European Union. .

NHSE added each Lloyd George record contains a “vital” range of detailed patient information and their security and accuracy “must be preserved”. 

The records are named after former prime minister David Lloyd George, who introduced a national health insurance scheme for low-paid working men in 1911 when he was chancellor.

In last year’s GP contract, NHSE committed to the digitisation of all Lloyd George records by 2022-23. A few practices have fully digitised the records through pilot schemes, but NHSE said the records still exist in “large volume” despite the growing use of technology in primary care.

However, digitising the records can be a time-consuming operation. GP Online reported the process had been complicated by the extra layer of compliance required by 2018’s General Data Protection Regulation. 

Last month, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock criticised the NHS’ use of Lloyd George records in a speech at the inaugural Parliament and Health Tech conference.

“Every time people here Lloyd George, I want them to think of an admirable leader of the past, not a way to store data in the present,” he said.

NHS Business Services Authority announced in September 2018 it would store scanned patient records, including Lloyd George records, on the Amazon cloud in a bid to create a national data repository for GP and hospital records.