Pharmacists have pointed to a poll that suggests most people think all healthcare professionals should have access to patient records as evidence of public trust in the sector.
Eighty five per cent of 2,343 respondents to an online YouGov survey in June agreed that any medical professional directly responsible for treating patients should have access to "key elemetns" of their medical record, provided the access was "secure".
More than three-quarters of those who agreed said that greater access to records would result in better healthcare, while more than two-thirds thought it would lead to fewer mistakes in patient care, in the survey commissioned by healthcare information company EMIS Group.
Contractors told C+D their patients often assumed the sector already had access to medical records, and Pharmacy Voice said giving patients full control over their own records would lead to greater access for the profession.
Graham Phillips, owner of Manor Pharmacy Group (Wheathampstead) Ltd in Hertfordshire, said there was a "a high [level of] trust" in the profession and granting pharmacists access to records was a "no brainer".
"It doesn't make sense for us to give prescribing advice without relevant information about liver function tests, kidney function and so on," he told C+D.
Graham Jones, owner of Lambourne Pharmacy in Berkshire, said many of his patients were "very surprised" that he could not access their records.
"The more momentum we can get behind [records access], the easier it will be to integrate pharmacy into the healthcare team. It will undoubtedly extend the quality of the care that pharmacy is able to offer," he told C+D.
Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott said the YouGov poll confirmed his view that the public were unconcerned with pharmacists viewing their records.
"Most people think it's sensible that someone who is providing care to them would have access to more information than pharmacists currently have to go on," he told C+D.
"Our position is that records belong to the individuals and [they] are in a position to say who should have access. We shouldn't be having this argument about whether pharmacists should have access," he added.
EMIS Group chief executive Chris Spencer said the study showed that the "vast majority" of people wanted healthcare professionals to view their patient information and assumed this happens "as a matter of course".
"Secure record sharing is not yet common practice, despite proven benefits in areas such as community pharmacy. Patients clearly want their records to be shared more effectively between medical professionals treating them," he said.
Last month, NHS England announced a pilot project that will give between 80 and 100 pharmacies read-only access to the summary care record later this year. Its findings would be published early next year to determine the "optimum model" for pharmacy access, health minister Daniel Poulter said at the time.