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GPs given slice of £240m Government funding for online access

Practices will be able to apply for a slice of a new £240m Government fund for schemes supporting greater online access to GP services.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the additional funding will be used by GP practices to implement online appointments and repeat prescription booking, and patients being able to access their GP records online.

The DH said local health providers will apply for the funding, and the DH will match their spending. Having previously announced a £260m fund for technology, the DH will be putting up a total of £500m, it said.

It added that further details on how to apply to the fund will be published ‘in due course’.

The health secretary has said that he wants to see a ‘paperless NHS’ by 2018 and has mandated NHS England to introduce online GP appointment booking, repeat prescription requests and access to full patient records by 2015.

He said paperless systems- which include online access to GP records- will meant that A&E clinicians will have full access to a patient’s notes, meaning they will avoid unnecessary diagnostic tests and stop patients being given the wrong medication.

In their report on online access to records, the RCGP urged that access should be prospective from an agreed date, rather than giving patients full access to their historical record, to lessen the workload burden on GPs who would have to explain complex terms and remove all third party information.

The GPC also queried how the problem of controlling parents, abusive partners or intrusive employers demanding access to people’s personal health records would be solved, and called for the scheme to be scrapped as patients had little interest in accessing their full GP record online, it said.

Commenting on the announcement of the fund, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘Paperless systems help staff in A&E departments by helping them manage patients and giving them instant access to a patient’s medical notes and care records. That means patients can avoid going through lots of unnecessary diagnostic tests – and even being admitted to hospital overnight – because A&E staff don’t know the background and history of the patient in front of them.’

‘And it means patients are less likely to be given the wrong medication, or something they might be allergic to, because clinicians don’t have access to the right information. Patients are also less likely to get stuck in hospital because no-one can decipher handwritten discharge forms.’