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Records access cuts referrals by three quarters

Mohammed Hussain: NHS England is still "number crunching" data from the pilot

An NHS England pilot to grant pharmacies access to the summary care record (SCR) has reduced referrals and patient harm, says project lead Mohammed Hussain

Granting pharmacists access to patient records can cut referrals to other healthcare professionals by three quarters, the findings from an NHS England pilot have revealed.

An NHS England initiative to allow 130 pharmacies in five regions to view patients’ summary care records (SCR) had found that 74 per cent of encounters where a pharmacist accessed the SCR would otherwise have involved a referral to a healthcare professional, most likely a GP, said project lead Mohammed Hussain.

More than half of pharmacists who had access to the SCR said the system had helped to avoid patient harm, said Mr Hussain. “This could be anything from giving an emergency supply to identifying a prescribing error [or] missed items,” he told delegates at an event organised by think tank The King’s Fund last week (March 17).

Mr Hussain said NHS England was still “number crunching” the data from the pilot, which launched in October. The scheme was due to end at the end of the month and NHS England still had “some work to do to ensure it can continue beyond that”, Mr Hussain said.

Meeting patient needs

Initial findings from the pilot also showed that 87 per cent of encounters that involved SCR access had resulted in the pharmacist judging that the patient’s needs had been met at the time, he stressed. More data from the pilot would be shared in future, but this would “take time”, Mr Hussain said.

Independent Pharmacy Federation chair Fin McCaul said pharmacists’ access to patient records was “a no-brainer”. There had been “some frustration” among attendees at the King's Fund event by a suggestion that pharmacists across England would not have access for another two years and the sector needed to “look at plans to enable that roll-out quicker and sooner”, he added.

NHS England chief pharmaceutical officer Bruce Warner stressed that the real “game-changer” would be when pharmacists were allowed to amend records. “Once [pharmacists] can write in those records, what pharmacy does becomes visible,” he told the event.

Last year, pharmacists told C+D that the estimated five-year wait before they could amend patient records was "too long".


How will records access improve your services to patients?


We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


Shaun Hockey, Community pharmacist

The perception of community pharmacists by GPs isn't always great and there's a high level of distrust when the pharmacists and employed by big corporates, However, GPs are happy to work with fellow health care professionals for the benefit of patients. Pharmacists need to change the focus from maximising income to improving patients outcomes but this will be tricky until the perverse pharmacy contracts that encourages pharmacists to maximise costs to the NHS is changed

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

If the figures are anything like right and there is large drop in referrals then it has to be worth the GPs supporting it, assuming as always that they really are overworked. The commercial snobbishness would be laughable if the way surgeries maximise their own income werent so obvious. In the end teh benefit to the Patients should easily override such petty objections.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

I can hear pots and kettles disputing coloration somewhere......

Bartosz /, Community pharmacist

GPs always preferred not to be watched by anyone. Implementation into practice will take ages and unknown forces will do everything to make it not happened.

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