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Top GP wants debate over pharmacists' access to records

Dr Simon Abrams: Health service "overdoes confidentiality"

A GP leader has called for a "debate with pharmacists" about how they would benefit from greater patient records access.

Dr Simon Abrams, a GP in Everton and chair of primary care federation Urgent Health, told C+D he would like to be involved in a “discussion" on records access "with pharmacists present".

Speaking at a King's Fund conference on winter urgent care provision, Dr Abrams said this would help him to “understand how pharmacists would benefit from having access to records, where their skill sets lie and what sort of information would be useful for them”.

While it is important to ensure patients agree for their records to be accessed, the health service sometimes "overdoes confidentiality", Dr Abrams said at the event on Tuesday (September 27).

The summary care record (SCR) only shares “a small amount” of patient information with pharmacists, which “clearly needs expanding”, Dr Abrams stressed.

“If we are expecting pharmacists to take on a greater role, why not share that [patient] information with them?” he asked 

"Does [community pharmacy] need the whole record? Maybe it does," he added.

Speaking at the same event, NHS England's medical director Sir Bruce Keogh mentioned the need for improved access to patient records across the health service, along with “24/7 diagnostic access” and an “adequate workforce”.

Their comments came a day after NHS England's Jill Loader said pharmacists are "so nervous" about accessing the SCR that they are only using it "once a month".

It is “very difficult” for NHS England to make the case for a shared record for community pharmacy when it is not being used, she added.

Pharmacists can already access an "enhanced" record for any patients who have signed up for this version of their SCR. However, it is up to each clinical commissioning group to decide whether they wish to use this as a "solution in their area", NHS Digital told C+D last month.

How would better access to patient records make your job easier?

Marc Krishek, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Surely missing the point. Read write access is for the benefit of patients and possibly their carers. How can community pharmacy facilitate this? Why are you investing in systems that do not facilitate this?

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

I would like to be able to access SCR's on aSaturday when I have a patient in front of me who does not usually use my pharmacy but has run out of their usual medication for some reason - often they are not sure of the name and strength - "blood pressure tablets" is not a helpful statement.

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

Nothing stopping you from doing that now.

Dale Peacock, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant



Surely pharmacists should have full access to patient records across the board.... with their clinical and medicinal knowledge they can pick up on gp error, or drug interactions and side effects of a a drug at the MUR stage... why have a debate on pharmacists access to patient records when it's the patient that is actually going to benefit from this... also this will take a load of surgeries with patients requesting appointments just to talk about their medications... 



Brian Austen, Senior Management

Ive just voted on whether you can 'dock' staff wages if thefts are occuring in the pharmacy. No! One person has voted yes. I had to before it would let me into this article. It then displayed information on who had voted, how they had voted, when they had voted and showed a print-out for a CPD record. Did C&D want this displayed? surely not?

James Waldron, Editorial

Hi Brian,

Thanks for letting us know. That's certainly not meant to happen, so I've asked our website designer to look into it this morning.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

"If we are expecting pharmacists to take on a greater role..."

In the real world i.e. outside the pharmacy bubble of alternate reality, 'taking on a greater role' is called a 'promotion' and usually involves a pay rise!  

Anonymous Anonymous, Information Technology

Welcome to this week's instalment of the gameshow "Pass the Buck"... The loser is always the pharmacist who gets a smack in the chops whilst the doctors win whether they answer the questions right or wrong... And they still run off with a lovely £100k+ prize!! Please welcome Sam Allardyce as your host!

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