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GPhC: Essential that pharmacists get read-write access to patients’ records

There are serious risks if patients’ records are not shared with all healthcare professionals involved in their care and it is vital that pharmacists have appropriate read-write access to them, General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) chair Nigel Clarke has said.

Speaking at the Pharmacy Show in Birmingham yesterday (October 18), the outgoing GPhC chair said that it is particularly important that pharmacists are given read-write access to patients’ records as they take on greater responsibilities.

It’s going to be essential, Mr Clarke said, that everybody involved in a patient's care is sufficiently well informed in order to deliver the best care for patients.

Mr Clarke also urged for better collaboration between community pharmacists and GPs.

“If there is going to be a better collaboration, then there has to be a common database that applies to what is happening to the patient”, which could help mitigate risks in patient care and tackle overprescribing, Mr Clarke added.

 

More collaboration needed as number of IPs increases

 

The need for smoother collaboration will become especially urgent as more pharmacists become independent prescribers (IPs), Mr Clarke said.

The government’s review on overprescribing, published in September, highlighted the need for more pharmacist IPs, Mr Clarke said, adding that the GPhC needs to facilitate that.  

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) CEO Simon Dukes and Royal Pharmaceutical Society English board chair Claire Anderson called for giving pharmacies better access to summary care records (SCRs) to improve patient safety and help pharmacy teams “fulfil their professional potential”, C+D reported in December 2020.

Pharmacy teams have only been able to access additional information on SCRs if patients have previously consented to it being added, though amendments were made in April 2020 due to the pandemic to better allow pharmacists and care providers to access the information needed to support patients. The arrangement will be reviewed after the pandemic, according to the PSNC’s website.

 

NHSX’s work on enabling read-write access

 

Speaking at a different Pharmacy Show session yesterday, Deen Somally – project manager for digital community pharmacy at NHSX – said that the organisation plans to further support local and regional programmes on their work around shared care records.

Shared care records include information from different healthcare settings, and therefore differ from SCRs, which contain information sourced from GP records.

Dorset and East London have “successfully gone live” with read-access shared records, Mr Somally said.

“In the future, we are working with further pilot sites to pilot write-access for pharmacies, which could be a real step in transformation,” he added.

On a slide he presented during his speech, Mr Somally wrote that NHSX is planning to evaluate and implement more widely shared care records “that embed information derived by community pharmacy” in 2023/24.

 

Additional reporting by Valeria Fiore

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