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patientrecordsOctober 7 2015

MPs, doctors and patient groups are backing a campaign to allow pharmacist to have ‘read and write’ access electronic patient records.

Launched by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the campaign builds on NHS England’s announcement that community pharmacists will be able to access patients’ summary care records, following a successful pilot scheme.

The RPS now wants to see “a staged development of this initiative towards pharmacist read-write access to the single complete electronic health record for all patients which is currently in development across Great Britain.” It says focus group analysis demonstrates patient support for pharmacists being able to access full patient records where patients themselves choose, and explicitly consent to, who may access the information.

Under the new proposals, “robust governance” would ensure records are accessed by pharmacists together with other relevant health professionals “only when there is a clinical need and only with the consent of the patient.” It would mean “pharmacists could provide GPs with dispensing updates and add information when patients transfer from one care setting to another, for example a hospital admission.”

Chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board Sandra Gidley said: “It is vital for patient safety that informed decision making is at the centre of all health care interventions. Full, patient led access to health records would greatly enhance the ability of pharmacists to add information as well as to read appropriate information regarding a patient's care.

“We have proven successfully through the recent pilot of pharmacist’s access to the Summary Care Record that patient care is enhanced by appropriate access to information. The RPS believes that patient care and medicine safety will be improved if pharmacists have ‘read and write’ access to patient records. This would also allow the NHS to maximise the value of the significant investment it makes in medicines.”

The RPS has already gained support from other stakeholders. Professor Nigel Mathers, Honorary Secretary of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said the move could further foster a more personalised pharmacist-patient relationship, and has the potential to improve the overall patient experience.

“In principle, giving community pharmacists access to patients’ relevant medical records - in the way that pharmacists based in GP practices will have - will be a good thing for patients and encourage more joined up working across the health and social care sectors,” he said. “There are also potential patient-safety benefits as giving pharmacists access to relevant information will help them give advice to patients based on accurate medical and drug history.

patientrecordsconsent“It will be imperative that an individual patient's consent is given before giving pharmacists access to their records – and patients will need to be assured that as healthcare professionals, pharmacists are bound by the same confidentiality rules as GPs. Nevertheless, any access to medical records would need sufficient safeguards to ensure that the information is used properly and only in the best interests of patients.”

The parliamentary All Party Pharmacy Group has been pushing for pharmacist access to the full patient record. It was one of the items included it in its 'First 100 days of Action' plan issued ahead of the May General Election for the incoming government.

Sir Kevin Barron MP, APPG Chair, said: “Pharmacists and pharmacy teams need to have read-write access to patient records if we are to deliver high quality, joined-up care to patients. Without this kind of information sharing and collaboration among health professionals the NHS will struggle to achieve the efficiency gains it needs.

“We’re encouraged that a first step has been taken in introducing access to the Summary Care Record. That is welcome, but we need to go further and introduce read-write access to the patient record so that pharmacists can play their full part in delivering high quality care to patients. The sooner we do it, the better for patients and the NHS.” The APPG will be meeting with the health minister Alistair Burt to discuss the matter further.

Steve Ford, Chief Executive at Parkinson’s UK, said medication routines can be complex. “To ensure the right routine is maintained, pharmacists should have access to the most up-to-date and accurate patient information and be able to add to this when necessary to improve the patients’ holistic care,” he said.

patientrecordsoneillSimon O’Neill, Director of Health Intelligence and Professional Liaison at Diabetes UK, concurred: “As a key member of the multi-disciplinary team, supporting people with diabetes, it seems only logical to give pharmacists access to the individual’s health record (with their permission) not only to ensure they fully understand the person’s diabetes but that any changes or recommendations they may make are included on the record so that other healthcare professionals are kept informed of these interventions.”

Links:

RPS announcement

RCGP support

APPG comment

Parkinson’s UK support

Diabetes UK support

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