An ambitious project to ensure GPs' computer systems include the medical records of former service personnel has moved a step closer.
The Ministry of Defence has announced that military casualties in combat zones will soon carry a computer chip containing details of their injuries.
The system - which was first piloted in Colchester, Essex - is part of a wider scheme to centralise more than 250,000 military medical records on an £80m computer network.
At present, military medical records are held on non-networked computers, or even on paper.
Service personnel can also have more than one record as they move between different locations during their careers.
The new system will be connected to the NHS network by 2010, meaning that the NHS medical records of new recruits can be imported on to the Defence Medical Services platform, and records can be exported back to civilian GPs when the men and women retire from the armed forces.
Defence minister Derek Twigg said: "The new system is all about improving the care and treatment of military personnel.
"Doctors, pharmacists, nurses and other health professionals will now benefit from access to one central database, providing the most up-to-date information on their patients - it will not matter if they are in Birmingham or Basra.
"This is a truly 21st century way of working, and a huge step change in medical care."
<http://www.mod.uk/defenceinternet/home> Ministry of Defence
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