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Sector slams 'misleading' Telegraph SCR story

The Daily Telegraph published concerns that patient records access can be used to "push products"

Pharmacy bodies have reassured patients that multiples cannot exploit access to the summary care record for commercial gain

Pharmacy bodies have hit back at a “wholly misleading” national newspaper article that warned pharmacy chains could “exploit” access to patient records.

The Daily Telegraph’s front page yesterday (August 10) highlighted concerns by campaign group medConfidential that “high street pharmacies such as Boots, Tesco and Superdrug" will “exploit” planned access to the summary care record (SCR) to “push sales of their products”. 

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), and Pharmacy Voice said it is inaccurate to suggest "commercial companies" will have access to the SCR, in a joint letter partially published in today's edition of the paper (August 11).

Pharmacists accessing records as part of a rollout across England from autumn will only be able to do so with patient consent, the organisations said.

"Private medical information will never be linked to a patient's store loyalty cards or any marketing promotions,” they added.

NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) said yesterday that the newspaper article – which reported medConfidential's concerns that the public would be "exposed to heavy marketing tactics" as a result of records access – contains a “number of inaccuracies”.

“SCR can only be accessed through a secure, encrypted private network by authorised pharmacy professionals. It is not accessible by other means and will never be available to supermarkets for other purposes,” they said in a joint statement.

If pharmacists share confidential patient information “for any purpose other than direct care”, they can lose their licence to practise, the organisations added.

Patients not consulted

The Daily Telegraph article claimed that health officials drew up the plans to send “sensitive data” from GP surgeries to pharmacies “without considering the views of patients”, following a pilot that gave 140 pharmacies access to the SCR from September 2014 until March this year.

The paper pointed to a report on the pilot in June, in which HSCIC said the views of 15 patients had been received. These were then disregarded because of their low number, HSCIC said in the report.

But HSCIC and NHS England said yesterday that the pilot had been endorsed by patient groups including the Patients Association, Parkinson's UK, Age UK and National Voices. Local patient groups in pilot areas were also “supportive” of the plans, NHS England and HSCIC said.

The article has since been published on the Telegraph’s website, and similar stories have been published on the websites of the Daily Mail and the Independent.

General Pharmaceutical Council chief executive Duncan Rudkin assured patients yesterday that pharmacists had a responsibility to respect patients’ privacy and hold their records securely.


What do you think of the Telegraph's story?

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Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

I won't be giving consent for access to my SCR for a start. I don't trust the multiples many pharmacists are pushed to deliver unnecessary services driven by targets. For example, a patient took a private rx for travel meds and vaccination to a multiple which cost £30, then the gob sh...te pharmacist booked them in and charged them £139.00. Unbelievable, glad I left multiples as they are greedy blood suckers no respect for them what so ever.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Was it the Shoe shop you used to work for?

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

You may well think that? But I couldn't possibly comment. :-)

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Suffice to stay, I am beginning to understand why GPs hold community pharmacy in very low esteem. Pushy dispensers driven by pharmacists phoning up being rude to staff. Uppity arrogant pharmacists demanding immediate action. It is a god damn awful state of affairs with some retail sector pharmacists. Let me tell you it's better to make friends with GP staff rather than piss them off.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

The multiples and the regulators are one and the same. Soon the they won't even bother withe whole charade and just work under one name and operate out of the same premises. Anytime they tell you not to worry is when to start worrying.

John Randell, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

just goes to show you NEWS is entertainment it rarely reflects the fact of the make one question the reporting around calais and other such matters......the news was never just presentation of facts its always been a dramatisation, gossip ugly remain from ancient times where stories where passed on orally...giant sea creatures etc...when the facts would have be far less exciting

Arun Bains, Community pharmacist

I do fear that pharmacies will be pushed to 'engage' patients for services they really do not need in the efforts to hit targets. I feel very uncomfortable about services being pushed onto people yet marketed as 'trying to reach those who need help'. I and others have been told to stop doing MURs once the 400 target is met. That seems to be a retail decision rather than a clinical one. Of course I always refuse.

Lets not forget that the Telegraph is the basically the manufactured news that supports the fears and prejudices of paranoid little Englanders with money (cf The Daily Hate Mail who would have been more likely to run a similar story but on the lines of "immigrant pharmacists stealing our data" theme"). Today's news is wrapping the chips tomorrow.

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

This is typical! Let's print a wholly inaccurate report on something that will actually benefit patients and improve patient safety but, by including a load of scaremongering and unsubstantiated references to "concerns" they will be able to convince some patients that this is a "bad thing" and commercial companies will get hold of "personal data for profit"! But the first time a pharmacist recommends a treatment without reference to the SCR and there is any sort of an issue, much less a contra-indication, that poor soul will be hung out to dry! GRRRRRRR!!!!

Old Timer, Manager

Well it must have been a slow news day and they had this non story in reserve , bet the Daily Snail had wished they had thought of it first .

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

The Daily Snail reported that The Telegraph had reported about access to SCR. How bad does have to be for tabloids to reference each other!

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