THOUSANDS of patients across Wearside could have their records available electronically for use during emergencies.
More than 234,000 people in Sunderland are being asked if they want to have a Summary Care Record (SCR).
NHS bosses say they are a faster way of finding out a patient’s history during an emergency situation.
They will contain details such as what allergies a patient may have as well as what medicines they have been prescribed.
Letters containing an information pack are now going out to each patient in the NHS South of Tyne and Wear area, explaining what SCRs are and asking them if they wish to have one.
Those who don not want a SCR can opt out by filling in a form.
Dr Mike Prentice, who is medical director at NHS South of Tyne and Wear, said: “Summary Care Records will improve the safety and quality of patient care by giving healthcare professionals easier access to reliable information about a patient.
“That means doctors, nurses and pharmacists can provide the most appropriate treatment more quickly.
“There are a lot of very ill people who are unable to say exactly what medicines they’re taking, or if they have any allergies or react poorly to certain drugs.
“In situations like this we have to rely on relatives or a patient’s GP to find out this information.
“With summary care records, it will be available to healthcare staff much more readily.
Dr Prentice added: “No SCRs will be created for at least 12 weeks but the process is expected to start in the autumn.
“Anyone who opts out during this three month period will not have a record created for them.
“Patients can choose to opt out even if a record has been made for them and their information will not be available on the SCR computer network.”
So far, one million patients in the North East have electronic care summaries.
They can only be used when staff are treating a patient and only after being given a person’s consent.
Dr Prentice added: “Everyone has to decide for themselves whether or not to have a summary care record and I would urge people in Sunderland to read the information packs that will be coming through their doors.
“The packs tell patients all they need to know about summary care records and contain information on how to get further advice or have their questions answered.”