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Pharmacists to get access to patient records, says health secretary

PracticeJeremy Hunt revealed to House of Commons that sector would be allowed access to such information, with proper protections in place – a move welcomed by the RPS and PSNC

Pharmacists will be getting access to patient records, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced.


In the first indication that the government plans to involve the pharmacy sector in its plans for sharing electronic health records, Mr Hunt told the House of Commons on Wednesday (October 30) that pharmacist access "could make a very big difference" as long as there were proper protections in place for patients.


It would ensure pharmacists could give people "the correct medicines and know about people's allergies and things like that", he said.


Mr Hunt did not provide any details on when pharmacists would be given access or how the system would work. But his comments came after years of lobbying from pharmacy groups including the NPA and PSNC who have continually argued that access would improve patient safety and save pharmacists' time.


Access to patient records would ensure pharmacists could give people "the correct medicines and know about people's allergies and things like that", said health secretary Jeremy Hunt

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Mr Hunt was responding to a question raised by vice chair of the all-party pharmacy group Oliver Colvile. The Conservative MP asked whether the health secretary would meet him as well as representatives from Devon pharmacies and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) to discuss how pharmacists could help "relieve the pressure" on A&E


Mr Hunt said he would be "more than happy" to meet him and his local pharmacists and that he was looking forward to the discussion.


The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said it was "delighted" with Mr Hunt's announcement because access to information about patients was key to reducing medicine errors, improving adherence and delivering safe care to patients.


"In the evenings, at weekends and during holiday periods, pharmacists often get requests for medication when patients have run out," said Dave Branford, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board.


"Patients themselves do not always have accurate information about their medication and expect the pharmacist to be able to access their personal health records. Allowing such access would facilitate supplies of the right medicines in such circumstances."


PSNC head of NHS services Alastair Buxton said he was pleased to see Mr Hunt making a "public commitment" to giving pharmacists access to patient records following continued lobbying from pharmacy groups.


"If this can be achieved, PSNC believes community pharmacies will be able to take on a much greater role in patient care, which would benefit patients, enabling them to access more care closer to their homes, as well as easing burdens elsewhere in the NHS," he added.


The government promised in November 2012 that all patients would have access to their own health records online by 2015, which Mr Hunt reaffirmed in January.


A C+D poll carried out in May this year revealed that almost three quarters of 87 respondents believed that patients would be happy for pharmacists to access their records if it improved the care they received.



Will access to patient records improve the care you can offer your patients?

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7 Comments

C W, Dispensing assistant

In agreement with the anonymous community pharmacist who posted earlier, there are so many security holes. There are so many people in and out of the dispensary area that the potential for misuse is too high. The only way I can see it working is if the pharmacist has a special access card that must be kept directly in their possession or in a computer they're directly working on. Otherwise any non-professional member of staff such as a dispenser, counter assistant, manager etc could easily access the system whilst the pharmacist is doing an MUR in another room.

[email protected], Community pharmacist

I have to admit I am unhappy about this.

If a patient comes in with a problem, we will be expected to read thru patient's notes to make sure the advice we give is correct. Too much data, will swamp us. If you miss something then you'll be hung out to dry as the information was there but just obscured. How long will it take to read notes?

I also do not feel that the majority of people are adequately aware of security procedures. How many people here know how to use truecrypt? Is your shop pc encrypted? Is the entire OS encrypted or just the data? How many people know what PGP is?

How about the network you have in the shop, do you know everything attached to it? Would you notice anything new added in? Does your pc have usb ports? Do you run script blockers on your browsers? Does anyone know how people get infected with cryptolocker?

I'm not scaremongering. I am concerned. I'm no security expert but for too long we have relied on the fact that we don't have too much patient data and so are not a target. If we have increased access, it increases our likelihood of being targeted. We already have most of the data required for fulz (info used for identity theft).

I do not have any trust in the government's ability to protect us. They have lost cd's with data, usb thumb drives and laptops. All this through naivety or neglect. Proper security is awkward. In a busy shop do you really want this?

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Have to agree with “, Community Pharmacist”.

Sounds a good idea at first glance but there could be a lot of not so good unforeseen consequences.

Calum Nelson, Locum pharmacist

Would this just be in England or would it be nationwide?

Sachin Badiani, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

About time too!

Now for the finer details and when it will be implemented.

Also GPs should be forced to implement eps r2 so the system can be used and any bugs ironed out. Why should they be allowed to implement or not....

Disillusioned Sussex chic, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

I certainly agree!. there should be links from all health care services to enable TOTAL care for the patient. maybe this will also prevent hospital bed blocking too as each doctor from each department can access immediately what is going on. Pharmacists don't have to make unnecessary phone calls waiting on the line to be answered by a GP in another part of the country because 'Auntie Mabel' is on holiday and forgotten her meds!!! This will not only improve patient care but will be cost effective too, as there wold be less wastage of medications that could be vital to help someone else. Less over prescribing, Oh! the list could be endless!!!!!!
If gaming companies can use good and secure software for there online fancies why can't the NHS? Hmm!

[email protected], Community pharmacist

Gaming companies!
Eh, that would be Sony? There was a website at one stage call www.hassonybeenhackedthisweek.com/‎ Or how about Blizzard, oops. Ok, so how about EA's origin. Oh no. So what about XBox live? Um.... possibly, maybe, MS say not in late 2013 but how about early 2013 and 2011?

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