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Independents' Day

Pharmacies to be given access to GP records

Pharmacists will be allowed access to GP records in order to ensure that they ‘give people the right medicines’, the health secretary has announced.

Speaking to MPs in Parliament, Jeremy Hunt said that the Department of Health would be pressing ahead with a scheme to allow pharmacists to access patient records.

In 2011, a pilot scheme to allow pharmacists in Bradford access to Summary Care Records was scrapped in order to focus on building ‘trust and confidence in the SCR’.

But Mr Hunt has signalled the go-ahead for the scheme nationally.

He told MPs last week that ‘there is a lot that pharmacists can do’ and allowing them access to GP patient records will help to improve dispensing of medicines.

He said: ‘One change we are making that could make a big difference, where proper protections are in place for patients, is allowing pharmacists to access GP records so that they can give people the correct medicines, know about people’s allergies and things like that. There are lots of other things as well, though, and I look forward to the discussion.’

The change was welcomed by pharmacy bodies. Alastair Buxton, head of NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee said: ‘PSNC and other pharmacy organisations have been lobbying on this topic for some time, so we are of course pleased to see the Health Secretary making a public commitment to this and we look forward to seeing the plans progress.’

Readers' comments (64)

  • Speaking as a patient, I do not want my medical records available on a computer screen in a pharmacy. In most pharmacies all staff have access to the pc or can see the screen. I don't consider it to be confidential and would opt out.

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  • Temporarily disregarding the affront I feel at being likened to a grocer putting packs in bags, I would like to make a point regarding the above comments.

    It would appear that pharmacists have an uphill struggle to convince other healthcare professionals that we can make a valid and helpful contribution to patient welfare. The idea that we are nothing more than uneducated retailers motivated entirely by money needs to be put to bed once and for all. From some of the above comments, however, it would unfortunately appear that there are members of the medical profession – their motivation being territorialism, perhaps – who want to perpetuate this myth. Good doctors are, in my experience, open to discussion and happy to receive a pharmacist’s input. I have no interest in trying to do someone s job; but I do want to use my education, training and considerable experience for the benefit of the patient. Keeping me out of the information loop is not in the patient’s best interest.

    I agree that much dialogue will be necessary before we can establish the best way forward. However, by casting aspersions on the professionalism and expertise of pharmacist colleagues, the only direction that patient care will be moving will be backwards.

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  • As a pharmacist who has had access to the primary care record (it's not just the GP's these days) in both primary and secondary care work, I can't believe it's taken this long for community pharmacists to access this information.

    The claim that everyone at a pharmacy would be able to access it ignores that community pharmacies run with the same information governance standards as GP surgeries. Should I trust my GP receptionist to keep my information confidential? If not, why can't you trust the pharmacy's dispensers?

    This is the opportunity for pharmacists and GPs to work proactively together, rather than pharmacists reactively interrupting surgeries to correct serious errors as now. Yes, there needs to be safeguards, processes and understandings - but this is the beginning of that journey.

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  • Niall,

    "Would you prefer that I now send anyone with a runny nose (I literally mean everyone) to you as it me selling them something and actually making a few pence on it is somehow professionally reprehensible"

    I think you answered your own question. If you had mild medical knowledge you'd know why. Please stick to what you are capable and to what you know.

    Not all GPs will be impertial. It is impossible to ensure 100% in anything with 40,000 people. But NHS contract is set up so as to avoid inherent conflict of interest. Majority of privately owned pharmacies do not have direct contract with NHS.

    Tell me which of the activity based income in general practice allows GPs to exploit NHS and make significant income (without fraud, that's not what we are discussing here)?

    p.s. The only thing I agree is the dispensing doctors. I am against this and it should really be regulated. (hence I did not say "all" GPs)

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  • Just to clarify that almost all community pharmacies provide NHS services - they dispense the NHS prescriptions . There are standards that pharmacies have to comply with and they are inspected.

    GPs get paid a sum per patient on their list as well as additional sums for carrying out extra services and for monitoring long term conditions etc. Are people posting comments suggesting that pharmacists take advantage of patients also suggesting that GPs do the same?

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  • Pharmacists what's your problem ? Why are you feeling it is against you ??
    GP/Dr by a long way respect and take pharmacy advice on board -- irrespective of some of your colleagues experience
    Pharmacist believe they are superior to doctors as they know drugs and can follow a flow chart
    See how condescending that sounds
    And all you saying GP get paid for this that and how that's all money making its very insulting and actually extremely ignorant of you --- as I do not believe the vast vast majority if Dr are in it for the money -- believe it it not it is what we wanted to do and were well aware of the financial rewards so please stop this rhetoric. As for the tick box your colleagues go on about do you honestly know what's it all about ? and how it can be used to thrash abuse demoralise sack etc
    Be truthful this is all about control and power and who can bully push around who , and find a convenient scapegoat
    For eons everyone wants to play doctor but no one wants responsibility but everyone wants to GF a sanctimonious highly critical and judgmental person under the banner of we are doing it for betterment
    We all want up improve but at the same time I suspect this will be used to pull dr in line , sack dr who d I not comply , report dr who do not write perfect English in description and who is not clicking the right code as then no audit can be done so the next round of admin qof sack more and rehire HCA chiropodist pharmacy assistant .cheaper labour you know I am correct's all going towed privatisation so just admit it .atleast call a spade a spade have courage

    It saddens me the attitude and approach of certain pharmacists commenting on here

    And I thought it was patient ideas concerns and expectations ..maybe non physician colleagues can read up on this and sit the CSA

    All the above is an opinion and just an opinion I repeat an opinion that's all

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  • Cathy,

    We have medicine management run by senior pharmacist employed by CCG. They do excellent work and I've always found them very helpful. One of theirtask is to keep commercial pharmacies in check. So far they'd looked at

    GTN ordering by pharmacy every month.
    Request for weekly blister pack when there is no indication.
    Ordering of patient medication without checking with medication
    Ordering "specials" when there is a cheaper reasonable alternative
    Ordering of stoma care product way above expected usage

    I've personally had
    Chemist suggesting nutritional feed when patient is perfectly capable of eating
    Chemist suggesting double quantity of less concentrated medication
    Chemist suggesting non evidence based treatment (e.g. millisecond contagiousum)
    Chemist not giving patient prescribed quantity of meds
    Chemist suggesting genetic medication over same non genetic version
    Chemist requesting a month script of expensive medication in advance in order to ensure a 'south delivery'
    Etc etc

    We all make mistakes so I've not reported them but I suspect many of them are not mistakes but a deliberate ploy to extort money from nhs.

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  • I totally object to anyone outside my GP practice having access to my medical records.

    This is a breach of patient confidentiality and out of order.
    Are they saying pharmacist's know better than GP's … I don't think so!

    I trust my GP 100%, I wouldn't trust a pharmacist who may know about medication but knows very little about me.

    How long will it be before this government has everyones medical records placed on Face Book for all and sundry to read!

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  • No way no how do I want pharmacists to have access to my medical records, no, no, no!

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  • It seems unwise to share patients' records. Maybe ONLY the current year should be available (the rest staying secure). The medical profession needs to realise that this is another slice-up of GPs , the confidence of their patients is at risk. The authority of doctors is being challenged. More damage from the new NHS legislation!

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