By Steve Nowottny
Patients at GP practices across Wales could be able to access their medical records and book appointments through a single NHS website by as soon as the end of this year, it was announced this week.
The Welsh Assembly Government has announced £1.7 million of funding for the My Health Online website, which will also allow patients to order repeat prescriptions, update their personal details such as name and address and get health advice on a range of conditions.
While detailed implementation plans have yet to be drawn up, a Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson told Pulse that the service was intended for use at every practice in Wales, with talks with GP system suppliers currently underway, and that the service would be introduced ‘from late 2010/early 2011'.
The announcement has been met with confidentiality concerns from the BMA and comes despite a mixed reaction to the HealthSpace site in England, which offers patients many of the same services, as well as additional functionality such as email consultations.
Connecting for Health had hoped to have four million patients using HealthSpace by 2014, although take-up has so far been limited.
Welsh health minister Edwina Hart said the site was being launched in response to increasing demand for online GP services.
‘We recognise that providing accessible information is critical if we want to enable people to change their lifestyles and improve their health.
‘The Welsh Assembly Government is also committed to improving access to health services for people living in rural communities. My Health Online will particularly save length journeys to GP practices.'
Dr Richard Lewis, secretary of BMA Wales, said: ‘A considerable amount of work has already been done to develop information systems in Wales, but an awful lot more still needs to be done.'
‘Any development that improves efficiency and gives better access to information will be welcomed by doctors. But we must ensure that these systems are secure and retain the confidence of the public.'Patients in Wales will be able to order repeat prescriptions and book appointments through a single NHS website Patients in Wales will be able to order repeat prescriptions and book appointments through a single NHS website