October 6, 2023

The ABCs of SCRs: Accessing your Summary Care Record


With 5 years of cannabis journalism behind her after graduating from De Montfort University and writing for cannabis publications such as The Cannavist, Lucy is a dedicated journalist passionate about cannabis education and culture.

fact checked

Compliance Director

The first step in accessing medical cannabis in the UK is having your eligibility assessed by a qualified clinical team. To do this, they need to access your health records, or your Summary Care Record (SCR). 

Summary Care Records are automatically created by the NHS in England when a patient registers with a GP, and serve as a digitised synopsis of the patient’s key clinical information. 

The information on SCRs is gathered from GP notes, and it can then be accessed and added to by other healthcare professionals when treating that particular patient. 

Around 98% of all NHS General Practitioners use the SCR system, which was introduced in 2010, to reduce the risk of prescribing errors, and ensure safer care and an improved patient experience.

But you may be wondering, what’s featured on your SCR, or why medical cannabis clinics need access to them in order to assess your eligibility - and that’s where we come in. 

Here we’ve spelled out the ABCs of SCRs, to put your mind at ease. 

So, what’s on a Summary Care Record?

There are two different types of Summary Care Record, named core SCR, and SCRai. 

Core Summary Care Records contain a patient’s basic information including their full name, date of birth and NHS number. They also provide brief information about long term health conditions, or significant medical history, as well as any medications they may be taking, allergies they suffer from, or adverse reactions they are known to experience to certain types of medication. 

However, around 58 million people are believed to have an SCRai, which is an SCR that contains additional information, also sometimes known as an enriched SCR. In this type of SCR, healthcare professionals document or record lifestyle information that relates to the patient. Smoker status or alcohol consumption rate is often noted in SCRais, as well as notes on treatment preferences, or reasonable adjustments that should be made during the patients' treatment.

In SCRais, typically the reason behind prescribing certain medications is explained, whilst SCRs only tend to contain the name and dosage of the medications the patient is currently prescribed. SCRais also typically contain information relating to hospitalisations, immunisations or X-ray, scan, and test results that may be relevant when treating that patient to ensure patients receive the appropriate care.

Patient’s can also speak to their GP and request to add any information to their SCR that they believe may be useful or of relevance to those treating them, for example including a note to say they are seeing a private therapist, chiropractor, or physiotherapist outside the NHS. 

And, what’s not on a Summary Care Record?

There are certain types of information that aren’t included in SCRs of any kind, because it is considered as protected and sensitive data by the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Data relating to pregnancy terminations, fertility treatments, gender reassignment and sexually transmitted diseases are all automatically excluded from SCRs and SCRais for this reason, unless the patient has opted into having this information included.

It is also important to mention that not all medications or medical history will automatically appear on Summary Care Records. This is because this care or treatment is not always administered or prescribed by the patient’s GP, which is the SCR’s source of information. 

If a patient has received treatment in a hospital, A&E, at a private medical centre, or a dentist for example, the information isn’t automatically sent over – instead it should be updated manually. 

It is essential that this is done to ensure that patients receive the best care, and so healthcare professionals can make informed and appropriate clinical decisions when caring for, or treating, the patient by having up-to-date information.

Why do medical cannabis clinics need to access Summary Care Records?

In order to ensure that each patient receives the most suitable care for their condition, SCRs need to be assessed by medical cannabis clinics to see what has been successful and unsuccessful in treating the patient previously. 

By having a look at how the patient has responded to other treatments, clinical teams like ours here at Releaf, can evaluate whether medical cannabis may be an appropriate treatment for the patient, and whether it may be able to help them manage some of the symptoms they are struggling with.

Having all of this information summarised in a snapshot format makes it much easier for clinical teams to digest and ensures prescribing, or treatment decisions, are made in a timely manner to best benefit the patient.

Any and all health care professionals that wish to view a patient’s SCR must have a legitimate relationship with the patient, or to their care and treatment. The patient should always be asked for their permission before the records are accessed, unless it is deemed they are acting in the best interest of the patient. But rest assured, here at Releaf we always ask for permission before viewing SCRs.  

How can I access my Summary Care Record?

The easiest way to request access to your Summary Care Record is to speak directly with your GP and ask them to share this digital document with you, which can normally be completed within a few weeks. 

Another way to do it is online through the NHS website. Once you’ve created an account on the NHS app or website and verified your identity, you can see the information relating to your medicines or allergies. However, to be able to get online access to the full record you will have to speak to your GP directly who can then authorise and approve this.

Some GP services also have their own online systems that allow patients to view or download their health records. Again, this often has to be approved by the patient’s GP, and so it may be quicker to just speak to them directly. 

Alternatively, with your permission, medical cannabis clinics like Releaf can request access to your SCR on your behalf, which can be done simply using your NHS number. After viewing your SCR, the clinical team will be able to evaluate whether medical cannabis could be the right option for you, and if so, invite you for your first consultation with a Specialist Doctor. 


In conclusion, gaining access to your Summary Care Record is an essential, and the initial, step in the process of discovering whether medical cannabis could be the right treatment option for you.

SCRs, whether the core or enriched variety (SCRai), serve as virtual snapshots of a patient’s key clinical information, which makes it easier for healthcare professionals to evaluate treatment suitability.

The information contained in SCRs is crucial for medical cannabis clinics like us to make informed decisions that result in the best possible treatment outcome for each patient.

Accessing this concise summary expedites and streamlines the decision-making and prescribing processes, ultimately benefiting the patient’s overall care and experience, which is something we strive to do here at Releaf. 

Releaf is committed to helping you access the benefits of a medical cannabis service. Our monthly packages are tailored to your cannabis prescription, and we offer specialist consultations for medical cannabis and a unique medical cannabis card for protection. 

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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