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Millions of patients now have the ability to see their own GP records after NHS overrules union fears


Millions of patients are now able to access their own GP records after the NHS overruled a union who opposed the decision.

Each GP surgery in England will now be contractually obliged to give their patients – who are over the age of 16 – access to their information on their mobiles, according to The Times.

Previously, patients would have to phone their GP to book appointments and access to their medical information – such as blood test results and repeat prescriptions. However, from today, this is no longer the case.

Around 4,000 GP surgeries had already opted in to allow their patients to view records online, but now all surgeries are obligated to introduce it. 

This scheme is seen as a step forward for ‘digital-first’ primary care, which aims to free up around 15 million appointments over the next two years. 

And those using NHS services are already making use of the online services available to them, as one in four repeat prescriptions are made using the NHS app.

But the British Medical Association (BMA) argued that granting people access to their medical data would actually put more pressure on the GP workload. It also said that giving people access could put patients at risk. 

Each GP surgery in England will now be contractually obliged to give their patients - who are over the age of 16 - access to their information on their mobiles (stock image)

Each GP surgery in England will now be contractually obliged to give their patients – who are over the age of 16 – access to their information on their mobiles (stock image)

This scheme is seen as a step forward for 'digital-first' primary care, which aims to free up around 15 million appointments over the next two years (stock image)

This scheme is seen as a step forward for ‘digital-first’ primary care, which aims to free up around 15 million appointments over the next two years (stock image)

The BMA threatened a court case over the proposal, but then abandoned the plans because of legal and financial reasons. 

Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer, chairwoman of the BMA GP committee for England, told the outlet: ‘For the majority of patients, access to their GP record on their smartphone will be a welcome development. 

‘However, for a significant number of patients, especially those members of our society who are most vulnerable — women, children and those lacking capacity — the forced implementation of this process is a cause for concern for us as GPs.’

According to the outlet more than 18 million people with an online NHS account can see their health records. But this will now spread to cover 32 million who have the NHS app installed on their mobiles.

Logging into the NHS app will bring up doctors’ notes from appointments and it will be constantly updated with new information as it is logged on the system. 

Dr Vin Diwakar, the national director for transformation at NHS England, told The Times: ‘The NHS understands that people lead busy lives, so it is essential that the health service continues to adapt and innovate to make sure that access to GP services is as convenient as possible for patients.’ 

This comes as the boss of Boots says pharmacies should have access to customers’ NHS medical records.

Seb James, managing director of the High Street chain, said giving his staff permission to read and write notes would ‘enormously improve outcomes for patients’.

He acknowledged a ‘lot of people’ struggle to access a family doctor and wants ministers to give pharmacists the power to take on some of the work.

Speaking at the Rewired digital health conference in London in March, Mr James said it would ‘improve the ease of access to medicine at a time when the NHS has never been under so much pressure’.

He said his firm would be willing to conduct annual health checks and help patients manage their mental health, heart disease, diabetes and pain.

The intervention comes as the government is finalising its primary care recovery plan, which will detail how it plans to improve access to GPs.

Mr James said: ‘Just as we can advise our customers which skincare product might be suitable for them – patient care should be personalised and seamless, offering complete continuity between hospital, GPs and the local pharmacy.

‘Not only would this take critical strain out of the NHS system, but it would also crucially make it easier for patients to get access to the care and services they need.

‘One way to help facilitate this is the better sharing of patient data between community pharmacy and the NHS.

‘With patient consent, better data sharing could transform the way healthcare services are delivered.’



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