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GPC chair says shared patient records are increasing workloads

GPs are seeing more patients as an ‘unintended consequence’ of the NHS's integrated patient records system, according to the chair of the BMA's GP Committee.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the system, which allows GPs and hospitals to share information with one another, has led to secondary care services redirecting patients to practices to explain their hospital test results.

Speaking as part of an event at the Labour Party conference last week, Dr Vautrey said he had seen this happening in Leeds - where he practises  - because GPs can provide the results more quickly than hospitals.

Commissioners in Leeds say they are 'not aware' of patients being redirected, but will speak with practices to investigate the problem.

Leeds became the first city to share GP patient records across the healthcare system in October last year, more commonly known in the area as the Leeds Care Record.

GP Connect – an NHS Digital programme – underpins the Leeds system and allows hospitals to share and view patient information and data with GP practices and vice versa.

During a fringe meeting at the Labour conference on 23 September, which looked at the use of technology in primary care, Dr Vautrey said the system is a ‘step forward’, but also warned of the unintended consequences of more work for GPs.

He said: ‘It’s a step forward from where we’ve been before and it is a greater integration of information from practice point of view or a particular hospital point of view.

‘They can see information on our systems in a way that they couldn’t before. They’re able to see patients in hospital settings in a better way as well.'

He added: 'It does have unintended consequences, shall we say. It means now I can see all of the results from the hospital.

‘What’s happening now is patients, when they ring the hospital for their results, they’re being directed to their GP to get the hospital results as we can provide them quicker than the hospital. So you end up seeing a few more patients than you would have.’

A spokesperson for Leeds CCG said: 'In Leeds, we take a citywide approach to digital developments like the Leeds Care Record and work closely with colleagues across the health and care system to help make sure that the tools and applications we develop meet their needs and are used effectively.

'We’re not aware, either from data or feedback, that hospitals are referring patients to their GPs to get their results.'

They added: 'However, we appreciate the concerns of LMC members and will talk to practices to find out more and look at what we can do to address any issues.'

Also speaking at the the Labour Party conference was RCGP chair Professor Stokes-Lampard, who voiced concerns about the non-pharmaceutical supply chain in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and said it could lead to surgery closures if practices run out of basic supplies.

Readers' comments (13)

  • Ivan Benett

    Sharing records electronically, with appropriate consent improves care and reduces the risk of harm. It should be unbraced and encouraged. If there are resource implications, including workforce, they should be factored in. Now that Boris has found the magic money tree, resources should no longer restrict our ambition for seamless information. There is a good case for making this a priority.

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  • Daily problem.
    This morning patient came to ask for results of CT done last week by hospital team. Incidental findings of critical stenosis iliac arteries; gallstones; renal cysts, lung atelectasis, osteoporosis all need explaining and actioning
    No extra resource. 10 minutes to sort
    Hospital appointment in 3 months

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  • So the challenge is either to modify behaviour or support the workforce to meet the demands of this new activity. In either case the problem is not the shared record itself.

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  • @Ivan Benett
    I'm really sorry- but unless you are being ironic that is just fanciful nonsense. The magic money tree is not going to help me place the patient into the context that the consultant has seen them, or help me answer questions about what happens next with their results......and all in the space of 10 minutes with everything else on the menu?

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  • We shouldn’t be surprised that patients anxious for results default to the earliest opportunity to get them and context is key
    This can happen whithin our own practice where a GP can end up passing results on if the patient can’t see the GP that ordered them
    Hospitals could be more efficient if they rang patients with results rather than organising an OPD
    This would help

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  • @ Ivan Benett | Salaried GP30 Sep 2019 10:53am

    Can I politely advise that your welcome to express your opinions like anyone else but there comes a time when commentary has an overpowering and unpleasant flavour of disingenuous trolling.

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  • Troughtastic is right. The problem is not the shared record but the behaviours. The response is to be expected from those in the GP community who want to continue to live in the past and don't care about the obvious benefits of shared records.

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  • Dear Ivan,
    Can you actually produce solid impartial evidence for your statements? As far as I know there is actually very little thoroughly researched evidence that simply opening up each others databases (for that is what you euphemistically describe as "sharing") does actually improve outcomes. There is certainly NO evidence it reduces costs or resource burdens. Why, because if i were to "share" my records with my local hospital they will get 20+ years of 100% read coded free text poor data to pour their way through. Whereas they could alternatively receive a well crafted referral letter that contained all the data they needed. There is a concept of data overload and access to data does not equate to knowledge. Opinion is fine but express it as such.
    Paul C

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  • @ Hippocratic oaf | Salaried GP30 Sep 2019 7:41pm

    Lucky You, if IT functions in your backyard.
    Doubt it though and suspect your a little optimistically delusional (or somewhat?).

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  • ...and apologies if you’re a sibling of ‘Mat the App’ and anything beyond ‘humanities’ confuses you.

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