All pharmacists will be able to amend patient records within five years, the head of a project to give the sector read-only access has predicted.
If the project – which will give between 80 and 100 pharmacies in five regions read-only access to the summary care record (SCR) in the autumn – is a success then it will be rolled out to all pharmacies within two years, said Emyr Jones, clinical lead on the pilot project for the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
As part of the rollout, HSCIC would discuss with the NHS if pharmacists should be able to amend the records, Dr Jones told C+D at a parliamentary event on shared records access on Wednesday (September 3).
Although there were suspicions among parts of the health service that pharmacists wanted records access so they could "play at doctors", Dr Jones said access was necessary to allow the sector to make "informed clinical decisions".
NHS England and HSCIC – who direct the pilot programme together – were already discussing ways to introduce SCR access into every pharmacy "on the assumption" that the pilot was successful, Dr Jones said.
There were "all sorts of technical issues" about how to make the IT systems in GP surgeries compatible with pharmacies, but these could be overcome, he added.
Mohammed Hussain, NHS England systems commissioning manager, said the pilot's success would be judged on a number of "qualitative and quantitative" measures. This would include feedback from patient groups and the number of times pharmacists accessed the SCR, he told C+D.
In July, health minister Daniel Poulter said the pilot would determine whether patient record access improved "quality, safety, and continuity of care" in pharmacies and would shape the "optimum model" for pharmacy SCR access. The results of the pilot are due be published in early 2015.