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OneLondon’s Chief Technology Officer Gary McAllister on the Urgent Care Plan service

11 October 2022

The Urgent Care Plan is an NHS service that enables every Londoner to have their care and support wishes digitally shared with healthcare professionals across the Capital. The UCP platform was launched in July this year with an initial focus on end-of-life plans. Here OneLondon’s Chief Technology Officer Gary McAllister explains why this is so important and the opportunities it presents for the future.

Why are end-of-life plans important?

Respecting the health and care preferences of everyone is important – particularly when someone approaches the end of their life. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals help someone in this position live as well as possible until they die, and to die with dignity.

That’s why healthcare professionals will offer a conversation to the person in their care to discuss their wishes and preferences and create what is called an Urgent Care Plan. This plan includes the things that are important to the person in their day-to-day life, their preferences or wishes about their care and who else may be involved in their care such as relatives, carers and friends.

Why do we need the Urgent Care Plan platform?

It is really important that we ensure that all health and care professionals involved in that person’s care are aware of the plan so their wishes and preferences can be respected. This includes those professionals who may be involved in an emergency – like paramedics and other emergency service staff.

That’s where the new Urgent Care Plan platform comes in. This new platform, launched in July this year, captures information from local clinical systems and then securely shares it with other systems across London through the London Care Record.

As soon as the plan is created on the UCP platform it is saved and through the London Care Record is visible to all health and care services who use it. This includes the London Ambulance Service, 111, hospital emergency departments and Out of Hours GP services who may see the person in an emergency.

This means that wherever they are in London if someone needs urgent or emergency care, the UCP platform can be used by the care teams to understand the patient’s wishes and needs and ensure they are respected. This means more patients will have their wishes maintained throughout their end-of-life journey. To put it in context there are currently 58,000 care plans within the UCP platform with 3,000 new plans created since the system was launched in July 2022. In the past two months, 11,000 forms have been updated.

Who is behind the platform?

OneLondon supported South West London Integrated Care System to develop and introduce this new platform across London in July this year. Delivered by Better Health the UCP platform is based on OpenEHR, which means the technology meets key standards making it more interoperable with local systems. The platform is easy to use as it is available securely through existing local clinical IT systems so healthcare professionals can access UCP without the need for another username and password.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of this platform are clear:

  • Crucially patients and service-users only need to explain their wishes once. These preferences alongside treatment recommendations, for example their cardio-pulmonary resuscitation status, are then captured in the local clinical system and through the UCP platform shared with healthcare professionals across London who may need to be aware of this. Of course, if someone’s preferences change updates can also be added. Sharing wishes in this way means they are more likely to be respected.
  • Healthcare professionals are reporting that it is helping to make care more effective and saving them time. They can access the UCP platform from within their existing system securely and because data is shared between systems it reduces the need to transpose information. They can also access the UCP within all care settings via the London Care Record as well as directly into 111, London Ambulance Service and primary care systems. This will make care safer and more in line with patients wishes whilst also improving efficiency at the point of care and it is great news that initial feedback supports this.

What are the next steps?

As the programme progresses the UCP team will expand the platform, integrating it into more care settings such as mental health, social care and other care sectors. This will support more health and care services to capture and share clinical data across London with those professionals who need it. A process to support new requests for the care planning platform is available here.

The UCP platform has endless possibilities, enabling cross-pathway referrals, information sharing for clinical networks and enhanced real-time data capture for out-of-hours services such as paediatric intensive care. It is also our ambition that patients will be able to add information about their care preferences through the NHS App. The platform provides almost endless opportunities across London for any suitable care pathways.

A huge thanks to the team at South West London ICS for leading this important project and to all our partners across London who have been involved in delivering it. It really is making a huge difference to health and care across the Capital.

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