Summary Care Records - England

Quick reference guide

With NHS England commissioning the implementation of Summary Care Records (SCR) in community pharmacy, it is important that pharmacists are able to use the SCR efficiently to optimise patient care, particularly with the increasing demands on the wider healthcare system. Understanding how and when to use the SCR has proved vital in assisting all pharmacists with their role in providing emergency or unplanned care, as well as delivering an efficient and effective service for patients.

What is a summary care record?

The Summary Care Record (SCR) is a ‘read only’ electronic patient summary containing key clinical information. It has been created with information held by a patient’s GP practice and is updated whenever there is relevant change. 

As a minimum the SCR contains: 

  • Medicines: Acute, repeat and discontinued repeat items (discontinued items will be dependent upon the GP system which created it)
  • Allergies
  • Adverse reactions

Other information may also be available on a SCR, such as diagnoses, test results etc.

Community pharmacy: background 

SCR has been used by pharmacy professionals for medicines reconciliation in hospital in recent years. For community pharmacy, “proof of concept” (POC) projects were conducted to determine the viability of SCR, this took place across the country. 

The POC demonstrated that:

  • SCR viewing can be implemented in community pharmacies and adds value to patient care
  • Providing community pharmacies with access to the SCR has the potential to support the increasing demands on the wider healthcare economy.

When should I use the SCR? 

  • When dispensing an emergency supply (at the request of the patient) to verify the name, form, strength and dose of medicine previously had by the patient
  • Times when you would want to ask the GP practice for medicines/allergies/ adverse reaction information
  • Supporting self-care for public health services and promoting healthy lifestyles
  • During a medicines use review (MUR) to verify and compare medicines currently being prescribed and their allergy status, where this is not already known
  • For provision of the New Medicine Service (NMS)
  • When supplying medicines under a locally commissioned service, eg supply of medicines on NHS Patient Group Direction (PGD), during minor ailments consultations (MAS).

How to access the SCR?

  • Make sure you have requested and had the correct Role Based Access Control (RBAC) added to your smartcard profile
  • Make sure the CPPE online SCR training has been completed
  • Make sure you know who your Information Governance/Privacy Officer is and their contact details and any associated process requirements specific to SCR
  • Make sure you are aware of your pharmacies SOPs regarding SCR access
  • Ensure you are logged in with your own smartcard
  • Access the portal at and then select “Launch Summary Care Record”. It is advisable to save this to your desktop or favourites
  • Search for the patient, ideally using NHS number but if this is not yet known, using surname, DOB, postcode etc
  • Select the right patient
  • Record permission to view. REMEMBER: Locum pharmacists logged on with the locum ODS code (FFFFF) must ALWAYS select the provide more information about the access (optional) link and enter the ODS code of the site or branch where the access is taking place into the box before clicking yes
  • View SCR.


Patient identifiable data used by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, whether accessed from national NHS care records or stored in local or networked systems is subject to relevant NHS IG requirements and also existing GPhC standards on patient confidentiality. These cover many aspects of good practice in information management and security including prevention of accidental disclosure, security of hardware and software, staff training, management of critical incidents and various others.

  • Only access records for patients to whom you have a legitimate clinical need
  • Only access records with informed, explicit consent. This is usually verbal but can be written consent - written consent may be agreed locally but is not necessary
  • Remember to record the patient and associated advice/action on PMR
  • Only access SCR when logged on with your own smartcard
  • Only use emergency access when required for the patient’s best interest.


If you are experiencing technical difficulties and can’t access SCR, please contact:

  • Your local project contact
  • Your usual IT helpdesk
  • National SCR programme.

Benefits to practice 

Patient safety: 

  • Reducing prescribing errors
  • Reducing patient harm and therefore reducing hospital admissions
  • Ensuring medication that is clinically appropriate is given to the patient
  • Better understanding of patient health. 


  • Reducing the number and duration of phone calls to the prescriber
  • Reducing assessment time
  • Being able to access required clinical information instantly
  • Reduces the number of faxes for communicating information.


  • Reducing patients need to visit another care setting
  • Supply provided sooner
  • Enhancing customer loyalty
  • Improving advice given about medication
  • Increasing confidence in the profession
  • Improving patient convenience
  • Supporting seven day services.

Summary Care Record Decision Tool - RPS decision tool to support professional judgement for use of Summary Care Records (SCR) - England





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