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All patients’ Covid test results to become visible to GPs

GP systems will now be updated in ‘near-real time’ to reveal the result of Covid-19 tests taken by all of their patients.

GPs will not need to act on the information, which will be visible on systems whether the patient tested positive or negative.

This will apply to all patients where it has been possible to identify the patient’s NHS number, NHS Digital said.

And, although there may be a ‘slight timelag’ compared to when patients are informed of their result by the NHS Business Services Authority, it should be updated in ‘near-real time’, it said.

NHS Digital said this was being made possible with the use of EMIS Health’s Keystone product. However, it is not only accessible to EMIS practices, having already gone live for 95% of practices, with the remaining 5% to follow ‘soon’.

NHS Digital programme director Richard Ashcroft said: ‘We have worked quickly to ensure this technology can be put in place so that GPs are kept informed about coronavirus tests being undertaken by their patients, while making sure it is done simply, with as little additional admin for GP practice staff as possible. We would like to thank EMIS Health for working with us to deliver this at speed using their Keystone product.

‘Many patients would regard it as a given that their test results should automatically appear in their GP medical record, but the technological work behind the scenes with a brand new system such as that delivering the testing programme is considerable.’

EMIS Health chief medical officer Shaun O’Hanlon said: ‘Technology has played a pivotal role in the response to COVID-19 across the board and keeping the medical record up to date with COVID-19 test results means everyone who can share that record has a full picture of the patient’s health, including the patient themselves via Patient Access.

‘This will not only help day to day patient care, and it will also help on a wider population health level, as data-led insight relies on full and complete medical records as analysts continue to research COVID-19 and its short- and long-term impact on the nation.’

It comes as the latest official figures from the NHS Test and Trace programme reveal little improvement in the number of infected people – and their close contacts – being reached and asked to self isolate.

In the week leading up to 8 July around 22% of the 3,579 people who tested positive were not able to be reached by tracers.

It also comes as Covid-19 tests used as part of the NHS testing system have been temporarily stopped because some of the kits may not have met safety standards.

The Government has issued a warning for all settings to ‘pause’ the use of test kits produced by Randox laboratories ‘with immediate effect and until further notice’.

Meanwhile, patients who do not have an email address or mobile phone are finding they are unable to receive Covid-19 test results.