Steve Cram has championed a system which will help care health care information between professionals which will improve treatment and save lives.
The former OIympic athlete and BBC Sports commentator has today been officially unveiled as an ambassador for the Great North Care Record (GNCR).
Steve was keynote speaker at a special event at Ramside Hall in Durham, and addressed an audience of health and care professionals why he had chosen to become an ambassador for GNCR.
He talked from personal experience about how the Great North Care Record could have made a real difference to the care of his own family, and outlined why he is supporting this major multi-disciplinary project to improve the sharing of patient information between care professionals.
Set up over three years ago, the Great North Care Record is a new way of health and care organisations sharing patient information electronically across the North East and North Cumbria to improve treatment and save lives.
Viewed over 100,000 times a month, the shared care record is revolutionising the way medical information is shared electronically for 3.6million people.
It makes GP records accessible for hospital A&E departments, out- of-hours providers, as well as mental health, ambulance and 111 services.
It means potentially life-saving key information on patients’ health - such as diagnoses, medication, hospital admissions and treatments - can be shared securely to help patients receive the care they need more quickly.
In the not too distant future, information recorded in hospital systems will be shared across the region, which is not currently easily shared patients are able to set their own sharing preferences with healthcare planners, researchers and other organisations involved in their care.
Steve, who was awarded a CBE in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to sport, said: “I’m delighted to be able to support the Great North Care Record and it is something which I am passionate about. It’s important and will ultimately improve treatment and save lives.
“Both Mum and Dad experienced frustrating end of life experiences with cross-over between hospitals, care homes and local authority services.
“In my Dad’s case, it was extremely difficult to find a consistent approach to his health problems and care needs as we were dealing with doctors, care home and local authority assessments, all working with different systems, medical history and care programmes.
“At times it felt as though we were starting from scratch each time. Individuals were often very helpful and caring - however the system, or lack of it, seemed ill-equipped to furnish accurate and relevant data across the various agencies.
“Good health and care is always going to present challenges, but accurate data collection, storing and sharing should be commonplace and effective in today’s digital world.”
Professor Joe McDonald, consultant psychiatrist at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and director of GNCR, said: “We’re delighted to have Steve Cram on board as Great North Care Record ambassador, and hearing him speak about his particular experiences with the care of his parents really demonstrates the difference this project will make to people’s lives.
“By sharing patient information across GP, hospitals and other services at the point of need, medical professionals can see patient records immediately, allowing them to make quicker and better clinical decisions - saving them time, speeding up treatment and potentially saving patients’ lives.
“Most people would be surprised that this isn’t happening already but historically, care records are like a jigsaw puzzle with small bits of information held at the GP surgery, in A&E, on the ward but they don’t all work together.
"The Great North Care Record makes everything come together to complete the picture for better patient care."