Directors call for revamp of electronic records guidance

The Department of Health faces renewed calls to update four-year-old guidance on implementing the electronic social care record (ESCR) to ensure councils’ systems are compatible with each other and those of the NHS.

David Johnstone, who leads on IT for the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said the guidance lacked detail and councils could interpret it in different ways.

“We are pushing the DH, ­saying ‘if you want to have an electronic social care record, which has consistency and ­enables co-operation you need to refresh the guidance’,” he said.

Johnstone, who chairs the national ESCR implementation board and is adult and community services director at Devon Council, first called for fresh guidance in November 2005. He also said this week the DH must properly cost the ESCR.

A DH spokesperson said the ESCR implementation board had recommended updating the guidance last year and “proposals for the scope of this and related work are currently in preparation”.

He added that English councils had received £25m a year in capital funding since 2001 to develop ESCR, while a social care IT infrastructure grant – worth £48m from 2008-11 – would help councils develop their IT infrastructure and improve information sharing.

Also, from 2008-9, an extra £11m a year will be spent on testing integration of health and social care records, which will inform future investment.

Johnstone said progress had been made on integrating electronic records in health and social care. But he said more needed to be done to integrate adults’ and children’s services, the latter being under the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

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Mithran Samuel



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