NHS Digital is planning to expand its pilot of the National Record Locator Service (NRLS) to help paramedics identify patients with mental health conditions during triage.
It said that, following successful pilots that pointed to patients with a mental health crisis plan, it is now going give ambulance staff access to the plan itself so they can make quick clinical decisions.
The first full record retrieval is due to take place in November, with an additional three mental health trusts ready to join the nine involved in the first phase.
The NRLS enables paramedics, mental health nurses and others to access a patient’s records and identify if they need to contact the mental health service responsible for a patient and take them to a more appropriate care setting than A&E.
It was introduced in trusts in Cheshire and Lancashire last year. Since then others in London, Cumbria, Yorkshire and Humber have joined, and Somerset Partnership, Mersey Care and Nottinghamshire Healthcare are scheduled to be added to the list.
Mike Walker, head of the Integrating Care programme at NHS Digital, said: “This pilot has so far been a fabulous success, with over 85,000 mental health crisis plan pointers added to the database across the country since last December, so that ambulance staff are less in the dark about the people they’re on their way to help.
“Now we’ve proven that the technology works, it’s time to open it up, to new areas of specialism, new settings; putting the clinical information itself into the hands of those that need it.”
Rob Shaw, deputy chief executive of NHS Digital, said: “This is another step on our journey to full integration of digital records, ensuring that frontline staff in all settings have access to the records they need to continue delivering outstanding care.”
The NRLS works through the organisations holding the relevant records adding pointers of conditions, which are then visible to authorised staff.
NHS Digital said another element of the next phase pilot will involve enabling child health organisations and health visiting services to have access to child health records.
Next year pointers will also be added for digital maternity services, and mental health nurses will be able to access records when working with the police.
Image from Alachua County, CC BY 2.0 through flickr