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.
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’.