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GPs abandon legal challenge over patient records access

GPs abandon legal challenge over patient records access

The BMA has abandoned plans for a legal challenge against NHS England’s imposed requirement for GP practices to offer automatic access to patient records.

Its GP Committee for England had been preparing a legal challenge to further delay the 31 October date by which practices will need to switch on the functionality, as imposed by NHS England.

But in an update to members following last week’s GPCE meeting, members were informed that the BMA will not pursue the challenge for financial and legal reasons.

Deputy chair Dr Richard Van Mellaerts said: ‘GPCE had sought to bring a legal challenge against NHSE to delay the launch of the programme but due to resourcing issues and the legal merits of the case not meeting the threshold for success, was unable to progress this.’

The committee heard from members who expressed concern around the implications for patient safety of vulnerable patients having full record access and of the projected workload that GPs would take on in trying to implement the programme.

And it reiterated ‘grave concerns’ regarding the safety implications of this imposed contractual requirement.

Dr Van Mellaerts added: ‘GPCE will thus raise these concerns and issues with NHSE again ahead of the planned 31 October go-live date with a view to finding a way to safely implement prospective record access with the support of the profession.’

The October rollout date was set following several delays over the past year, fuelled by patient safety concerns.

The delays to patient records access

Patients were initially set to be given automatic access to their prospective patient records through the NHS app from 1 November last year – starting with EMIS and TPP, and with other smaller suppliers to follow at a later date.

But in October last year, suppliers confirmed they would not yet switch on automatic patient access to their records via the NHS app due to safeguarding concerns. 

SystmOne practices saw the functionality turned on in February although some practices were doing bulk opt-outs of their patients.

At the time, Pulse revealed that GP practices that were doing so had been asked to report to NHS England and ICBs.

In May, a London ICB expressly advised GP practices not to switch on automatic patient access to prospective records ahead of the 31 October deadline. Instead, practices should only switch it on for patients who specifically request access, North East London ICB told practices.

BMA guidance earlier this year advised practices to ‘consider a slower process in the coming months’.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Centreground Centreground 26 July, 2023 12:14 pm

NHS England as a designated name gives the notion that this is an impressive well managed organisation whereas in reality, it is an unfit management group with a disastrous performance record as reflected in the state of the NHS today which does not have the support of those it manages. How many of us have ever had any confidence in anyone we have met from NHSE and who has been employed by this irrational decision making bandwagon, behind closed doors group?
The taxpayer is funding this wholly inept institution which requires reform and to some degree disbanding more urgently than the NHS as a whole.

Centreground Centreground 26 July, 2023 12:18 pm

The disbanding refers to NHSE and not the NHS!

David Church 26 July, 2023 12:52 pm

Who is the Data Controller?
It is they who are the ‘Responsible Person’ for making the decision for each individual patient whether it is safe to switch on automatic access.
The Data Controller appears to be no longer the GP Practice. If it was, then it would be up to the Practice, and NHSE would not be able to decree when or how.
Any safety concerns should be flagged to the NHSE, and then any responsibility for switch on is at their door.

Y oh Y 26 July, 2023 1:25 pm

Not got very good lawyers GPC!

Also not sure who you are representing as clearly not helpful for patients or GPs

Born Jovial 26 July, 2023 3:25 pm

While I can see the benefit for the majority of patients, the small but significant risk to minority means this has to be managed better than a contractual imposition.
GPC should have Plan B in place now. No point waiting till Apr next year to know that there is no longer a National GMS contract

Truth Finder 26 July, 2023 3:59 pm

As if we are not busy enough, be prepared for the flood of people asking us to explain things or to try and get us to change their notes for insurance etc. Very poorly thought out political stunt. BMA should take us the dentist way. Fed up with being run and micromanaged de-professionalizing us.

Anonymous 27 July, 2023 7:18 pm

Going to need more time explaining the tiny details to worried well.