THOUSANDS of South Tynesiders are being offered new electronic health records to ensure they get the best treatment in emergencies.
More than 127,000 patients across the borough have the chance to get their own Summary Care Records (SCR).
The records are designed to offer people faster and safer care when they are treated in emergencies, out of hours or in urgent care facilities.
Bosses at NHS South of Tyne & Wear, working on behalf of South Tyneside PCT, are sending an information pack to each patient to explain the service.
It will also explain their right to opt out of the initiative if they choose.
Dr Mike Prentice, medical director at NHS South of Tyne and Wear, said: “The records will improve the safety and quality of patient care by giving healthcare professionals easier access to reliable information about a patient.
“That means doctors, nurses and pharmacists can provide the most appropriate treatment more quickly.
“There are a lot of very ill people who are unable to say exactly what medicines they’re taking, or if they have any allergies or react poorly to certain drugs.
“In situations like this we have to rely on relatives or a patient’s GP to find out this information.
“With summary care records, it will be available to staff much more readily.
“The summaries contain essential information covering a patient’s allergies, medicines and past adverse reactions to medications.
“They can only be used by healthcare staff when they are treating a patient and only with the person’s consent.
Dr Prentice added: “Everyone has to decide for themselves whether or not to have a summary care record.
“I would urge people in South Tyneside to read the information packs that will be coming through their doors.
“No SCRs will be created for at least 12 weeks but the process is expected to start in the autumn.”
In the North East as a whole, one million patients already have the new electronic emergency care summaries.
They are being used daily at three hospitals and one walk-in centre in County Durham and Teesside.