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SCR rollout not mandatory, says HSCIC

HSCIC: We are not aware of any pharmacists who want to opt out

Pharmacists will not be contractually required to take part in the England-wide initiative, says the Health and Social Care Information Centre


English pharmacies will be able to opt out of summary care record (SCR) access, C+D has learned.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) told C+D pharmacists will not be contractually obliged to take part in the England-wide rollout of read-only access later this month.

The organisation said it is not aware of any pharmacists who have expressed an interest in opting out.

But Mike Hewitson, who has discussed SCR rollout with HSCIC as chair of the Pharmacy Voice professional practice group, told C+D that pharmacists might opt out because of concerns about how records access could affect their liability for patient harm.

“It may present a difficulty if – for example – the patient says they have a drug allergy, but can’t remember what. If the pharmacist has access, but doesn’t [check the record] then this would potentially be negligent,” Mr Hewitson said.

Benefits and risks

Pharmacists need to consider the benefits as well as the risks of accessing the record, he stressed. “SCR access underpins the next generation of pharmacy services, and helps pharmacists claim their rightful place in the wider healthcare team,” Mr Hewitson said.

C+D revealed last week that pharmacists will not be reimbursed for the upfront costs of implementing SCR access until they go live with the service.

Kent contractor Amish Patel said he will “need to see how out of pocket" he would be before deciding whether to take part in the rollout. If access costs “a lot”, then he will wait until the right time to make the move, “such as when a service is linked to the SCR”, he said.

Otherwise pharmacists could “open ourselves to legal issues with no clear future” for how the record will be used, Mr Patel added.


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G W, Community pharmacist

Had SCR access for over a year. Easy to use, benefits everyone. I would reccomend it to all pharmacists. Mr Hewiston's point is invalid- If a patient told you that had a allergy and you didn't check it and just dispensed the medication you are being negligent full stop. It is much easier and quicker to look at SCR then to try and get through to speak to a GP (especially when they're closed!)

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Initially, I was very enthusiastic about the SCR access to be allowed (nearly said "given" - ha! ha!) as I thought it would be yet another arrow in our armoury of helping patients and improving safety. However, reading the article and some of the comments, I find myself tempering this enthusiasm with a degree of self-preservation that SCR access, without very careful planning, could be a "lose-lose" for pharmacy. No guarantee of reimbursement of upfront costs i.e. take it on at our own financial risk, while most (all?) other front-line healthcare providers appear to get free and ready access; If you have the ability to check a prescription but don't (or miss something) what is your liability? If you choose not to opt in, does that bring a liability of not making use of all available information sources? Time spent checking SCRs for potential problems, creating bottle-necks; IT issues on a par with EPS2. The list goes on. Never have I seen such a potential silver lining with such a huge cloud attached

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

If the pharmacy has the facility available to them (as they do because they choose not to have it) could they not still be deemed liable for not checking the SCR? By opting out, can the responsibility simply be absolved?

Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

You won't get a full answer to that question yet. Another question you won't get a full answer to yet is how will a contractor in say 6 months get access to SCR when all the face-to-face training events for one representative per contractor have finished? Will they simply be able to complete the online training, submit their certificate of completion, sign-off online somehow on the Ts&Cs and start using the access?

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

There are indeed risks in opting in. In a typical Pharmacy there would be time to check the SCR of only a tiny percentage of patients presenting prescriptions. Check any more and there will be a long queue of disgruntled individuals snaking out of the door. My point is that it would be only a matter of time before a hapless Pharmacist is sued for the consequences of missing an interaction or severe allergy that were in an unchecked SCR. To be safe you would have to check almost you REALLY have time for that?

G W, Community pharmacist

Why would you want or need to check every prescription? You only need to check a tiny pecentage of prescriptions, typically the ones you would normally have to speak to the surgery about. It's much more efficient to look at the SCR than try and get through to speak to someone at the surgery!!

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Community Pharmacy is quantitative not qualitative.

Bal Singh, Locum pharmacist

Funny that regardless of how many different training conferences mohammed Hussain and co. have been doing, they still haven't been able reassure or address these concerns. They can trumpet the potential value of occasional emergency supplies, but any pharmacist worth his/her salt knows there's a lot more use potential to care records, but they will not promote those for fear of consequence if it goes wrong. Even the GPHC hasn't got any guidance yet on how it should be used. Each check takes 90 seconds on average to access the paitent record. Good luck putting that into every patients dispensing SOP.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I will opt out, till I see real cases of benefits and zero risks !!!

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