All users of the new care records spine database are issued with a smartcard. As at the end of January 2007 there were some 320,000 authorised users registered for access.
The early adopter implementation of the summary care record will be phased, initially being deployed in a small number of healthcare communities. Access to the system across these communities will be limited to healthcare professionals in accident and emergency departments, primary care out of hours services, walk-in centres, and minor injuries units that require access for the provision of care. Over time, our obligations to patients who receive care outside traditional national health service settings—for example in the voluntary sector, from mixed teams of health and social care professionals, and in the independent sector under contract to the NHS—will mean that by the time an electronic care record has been created for every NHS patient in England in 2010 we anticipate there will be in excess of 850,000 users.
In all cases, access to records will only be permitted for the staff of organisations involved in delivering care to NHS patients, working as part of a team that is providing a patient with care, and will be limited to only as much information as is needed for the purpose of the care or other job role being performed in relation to the patient. Where those providing care are not NHS staff, patients will be informed of this and any objections raised will be respected.