At the beginning of December, Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs called for the government to follow England and Wales’ lead and allow community pharmacies access to GP records.
It followed Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething's announcement last month that all pharmacies in Wales will be able to access a patient’s GP record from March 2018, if a pilot is successful. Pharmacies in England have been able to access summary care records (SCR) since 2015.
Mr Briggs pointed out the Scottish government’s previous commitment for all pharmacies to have access to the emergency care summary record by 2014 “has not been delivered”.
“Scotland is clearly well behind the curve on how to transform general practice and deliver person-centred healthcare by making Scotland’s pharmacies a key partner in primary healthcare,” he said.
“Scottish Conservatives strongly believe that by enabling community pharmacists to access the GP record, people will receive better, safer and more accessible care.”
Responding to Mr Briggs’ comments, a spokesperson for the Scottish government said: “Community pharmacists across Scotland already have access to essential patient information through a dedicated NHS 24 phone line.”
Both the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) have since questioned the government’s reaction to the latest call for records access, branding it “underwhelming”.
RPS Scottish pharmacy board chair John McAnaw said the “entirely inadequate” current system of accessing patient records “does not reflect the Scottish government’s strategic aim of transforming primary care with a technology-enabled health and social care system”.
Speaking to C+D last week (December 15), CPS policy development pharmacist Adam Osprey said it is “disappointing” that local initiatives that have granted pharmacies access to records have been “generally developed in response to a crisis”, rather than a nationwide effort.
“Pharmacists are registered and regulated professionals who are well-versed in information governance matters, no matter their place of work,” Mr Osprey said.
“It is therefore difficult to see where the objections to opening up access would come from.”
RPS Scotland has requested an “urgent meeting” with the cabinet secretary for health and wellbeing, Shona Robison MSP, to urge the Scottish government to rollout “appropriate read-and-write access to health records” to “all registered health and social care professionals”.
Aileen Bryson, RPS Scotland practice and policy lead, told C+D today (December 19) that the Scottish government has acknowledged the RPS’s request for a meeting and the society expects a response in the new year.