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North Tyneside GP scoops national honours in Digital Health Awards

BySarah Banks

Jul 25, 2018 #Awards, #Business

A North Tyneside GP has taken top honours in one of the most keenly-contested categories at the Digital Health Awards 2018.

Dr Mark Westwood – a GP at The Village Green Surgery in North Tyneside, chief clinical information officer (CCIO) at North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group and primary care lead for the Great North Care Record – has been voted CCIO of the Year.

The category of CCIO of the Year was one of the most hotly-contested in the Digital Health Awards 2018 at the annual Summer Schools event at the University of Birmingham on Thursday 19th July.

Judges praised Dr Westwood as an excellent primary care CCIO who had done ‘great work’ on the Great North Care Record – and his peers who voted for him agree. The awards are voted for by senior IT managers and doctors, nurses and allied health professionals working in the NHS across the country.

As one of the founders of the Great North Care Record, Dr Westwood has been instrumental in winning the support of GPs across the North East and North Cumbria. In less than two years, 100% of GP surgeries (over 400) in the North East and North Cumbria, have now signed up to share patient data which will ultimately save lives and improve the treatment of over three million people across the North.

The Great North Care Record is a pioneering digital health project which is currently accessed over 85,000 a month by healthcare professionals. It is a collaboration between the £20million government funded Connected Health Cities and local NHS organisations, is a more efficient way of sharing care information electronically between authorised healthcare practitioners with patients’ explicit permission. It means potentially life-saving key patient health information can be shared securely in hospital emergency departments, out of hours, mental health, ambulance and 111-services almost instantaneously.

Receiving the award, Dr Westwood said: “I am delighted and proud that the work of the Great North Care Record has been recognised on a national level.

“We’ve been working very hard to engage with surgeries across the North East and North Cumbria. We’ve made fantastic progress and the Great North Care Record is making a real difference to people’s lives.

“This is the first step for the Great North Care Record. We plan to bring together NHS information so that heath and care professionals will be able to see the full picture of a patient’s medical history. Before the Great North Care Record, organisations could only see their own records.

“This improves information sharing across the system, making care safer and removes the need for patients to repeat themselves, or have tests repeated.

“The crucial thing about the Great North Care Record, is that we want the public to be in control over who they share their information with. It’s all about choice.

“This award is testament to the tremendous appetite and willingness of GPs within the region to make ‘joined up’ care happen. It’s fantastic that, in just under two years, all GPs have signed up to share patient data through a secure gateway system with 14 healthcare providers, including NHS foundation trusts, the North East Ambulance Service, mental health and out-of-hours services.

“By joining up different clinical systems and sharing data in real time, we’re helping health professionals to spend more time with patients to make earlier, better clinical decisions and treatments which will reduce harm and save lives.”

Professor Joe McDonald, Consultant Psychiatrist at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Director at Connected Health Cities, said: “Dr Westwood has been a driving force behind the implementation of the Great North Care Record. He has worked tirelessly with great passion and enthusiasm for the project and has been incredibly influential in encouraging GPs throughout the region to sign up to sharing GP records with urgent, emergency, out of hours and mental health services, far beyond his local area, but across the whole of the North East and North Cumbria.

“He is one of the founding partners of the programme, and without his commitment, the Great North Care Record would not have gained the groundswell of support it currently has across the region. Winning hearts and minds is no easy task and without the work that Mark has completed, we would not be where we are now.”

Dr Westwood continues to provide expert guidance to the programme as it looks to expand information sharing with other organisations and hospital departments.

To find out more about the Great North Care Record, visit www.greatnorthcarerecord.org.uk or follow them on Twitter @GreatNorthCare or Facebook @GreatNorthCareRecord.