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Trial pharmacists: SCR improves patient safety

Martin Bennett, managing director of Wicker Pharmacy in Sheffield, says the "major benefit" of SCR access is felt when dispensing emergency supplies

Access to the summary care record (SCR) allows pharmacists to dispense emergency supplies without verifying a patient's medicines with a GP, say pharmacists trialling the service


Pharmacists who are trialling access to the summary care record (SCR) have praised the system for improving patient safety and enhancing services.

As part of an NHS England pilot that launched in October, pharmacies across West Yorkshire, North Derbyshire, Northamptonshire, Somerset and Sheffield have SCR access. One hundred pharmacies are taking part in the pilot, according to PSNC, and participating pharmacists told C+D that access had been particularly useful for checking a patient’s medication history before making an emergency supply.

Pharmacist Justin Margison from Quantock Pharmacy in Watchet, Somerset told C+D that SCR access was “brilliant” and gave pharmacists “a firm legal backing” when supplying medicines in this situation.

“If the patient has got no repeat [prescription] slip [or] any old packaging, we have no way of knowing for sure that they actually have the medication. So [the SCR] gives us a cast iron answer as to whether they have it and how long they have been using it,” he said.

The SCR also allowed pharmacists to check the medication records of patients who had not visited the pharmacy before to ensure they would not experience any adverse reactions, he added.  

A ‘major benefit’

Martin Bennett, managing director of Wicker Pharmacy in Sheffield, agreed that the “major benefit” of SCR came when making emergency supplies. But the SCR also allowed pharmacists to check extra information about patients’ drugs - such as dosage - without the need to call a GP.

“It comes in handy with customers that aren’t aware of the conditions they’ve got. I have used it to verify if someone is an asthmatic [and needs a] free flu jab,” he told C+D.

Sohaib Saleem, a pharmacist at Eye Pharmacy in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, said the SCR acted as a good reference point when conducting MURs. “It’s really useful, especially when the doctor is not available,” he said.

It also helped to prevent drug interactions when patients on multiple medicines could not remember which ones they were taking, he added.

The RPS said in October that the results of the pilot and any recommendations for the potential rollout of records access to other pharmacies would be finalised before the end of March.

In September, the head of the pilot predicted that all pharmacists would have read-only access to the SCR within two years, and would be able to amend patient records within five years. But pharmacists told C+D that this was "too long" to wait, and urged the government to speed up the process. 


How would SCR access improve your pharmacy?

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Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Pharmacies such as Wicker Pharmacy are exceptional with Pharmacists there having adequate time to check SCR and make informed decisions. That is ideal. However the reality is that many (most?) Pharmacies are operating with barely adequate staffing levels with employee Pharmacist working flat out dispensing and meeting compulsory MUR and NMS targets. In these Pharmacies the Pharmacist would not have the time for any more than a cursory glance at the SCR for only a tiny percentage of patients presenting prescriptions. As commented before, access to SCR may be a twin edged sword. Access may have patient benefit but also will bring increased liability for the Pharmacist should they dispense a drug that is contraindicated with something in the SCR. In Pharmacies where no extra resources are allocated, those employee Pharmacists may feel happier without this access.

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