THE Great North Care Record, a pioneering digital health project, is improving the treatment of three million people across the North East and North Cumbria.

The project, a collaboration between the £20m government funded Connected Health Cities programme and local NHS providers, is a new, more efficient way of sharing care information electronically across the region between authorised healthcare practitioners with the patient’s permission.

Professor Joe McDonald, Consultant Psychiatrist at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Director at Connected Health Cities, said: “The Great North Care Record is a new approach which enables GP surgeries, hospitals and ambulance services to work as one at the point of need.

“This means medical professionals can now see patient records immediately, allowing them to make quicker and better clinical decisions, saving precious time, speeding up treatment and potentially saving patients’ lives.

“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. We have done lots of research with patients and many are surprised that this information is not already easily shared between organisations. The Great North Care Record makes everything come together to complete the picture for better patient care.”

Dr Phil Stamp, Accident and Emergency Consultant from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have seen real benefits since we implemented this shared health care record. We can now access key medical information about most patients arriving in our Emergency Department. We know the information is up to date and it means that we can treat our patients more efficiently and safely.”

Currently, 96 per cent of all GP surgery practices in the North East and North Cumbria are sharing information under the Great North Care Record.

Healthcare professionals ask patients for permission before they access their record and all patients can opt out of their medical information being shared if they would prefer.

Prof McDonald said: “Only authorised clinicians and health professionals can access this patient information and they are required to ask patients’ permission to view their details through the Great North Care Record. Patients can refuse at this point and they can also opt out of the system altogether – but by allowing us to access their records, it helps us to help them

“Ultimately, the Great North Care Record is about making urgent care decisions more efficiently for the benefits of patients – decisions which could affect their treatment or even save their lives.”

To find out more about the Great North Care Record, visit

A patient leaflet is available from GP surgeries.