Card could be key to survival

PEOPLE suffering from serious allergies and medical conditions will soon have access to a possible lifesaver.Sufferers in the Stowmarket and Needham market areas can have the Stowmarket Key, a smart card which contains vital medical information about the holder.

PEOPLE suffering from serious allergies and medical conditions will soon have access to a possible lifesaver.

Sufferers in the Stowmarket and Needham market areas can have the Stowmarket Key, a smart card which contains vital medical information about the holder.

Information on blood group types, organ donor details, allergies and the holders' NHS number will be on the card, which will also enable people to get discounts and shops and council run services.

The pilot scheme, which will be launched towards the end of the year, is being co-ordinated by Mid Suffolk District Council, Suffolk County Council and Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust.

Geoff Doggett, the project officer at Mid Suffolk District Council, said: "In the case of a medical emergency, vital information could be obtained from the card.

"The card's special reader will be held by the police and by medical practitioners and, as it will only cost about £10, it could even be held at the place of work to save people rooting through bags and wallets in the case of an emergency."

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But, Mr Doggett reassured, the smart card would be nothing like a compulsory ID card.

"These cards are not compulsory," he said. "They are very different to national ID cards. It is a voluntary scheme and every individual will have to apply for a card."

Dr Rob Hall, of Central Suffolk PCT, said: "The card can have information on major illnesses – such as diabetes, epilepsy or heart problems.

"It can also have information about allergies and medication – for example if the holder was allergic to nuts or penicillin, or was taking anti-coagulants.

"But the most important thing is that the card will only have information that has been decided by the person holding the card.

"People's medical history will not be on the card unless the holder has specifically decided to do so."

People in the Stowmarket and Needham Market areas will be able to apply for the card once the pilot scheme has been launched at the end of this year. It will be free to people on benefits.

Mid Suffolk District Council is hoping to issue about 3,000 – 5,000 of these cards and is planning to extend the scheme if the pilot is successful.

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