The £7.5m pledged by the health secretary to ‘support community pharmacists’ will be used to give them access to summary care records – a policy that was originally announced in 2013.
The Government announced that pharmacists across England will be able to access patients’ summary care records, with consent, in a bid to reduce the need to take up GP consultations and better tailor patients’ care.
It is the latest of the ‘new deal’ pledges to have been based on existing policy, after Pulse revealed that the ‘new’ £10m fund for struggling practices was based on existing money and a current pilot for practices that have been deemed ‘inadequate’ by the CQC, while many of the pledges regarding recruitment were announced earlier in the year by NHS England.
The latest scheme for pharmacists will be funded through £7.5 million of investment from the £1bn primary care infrastructure fund which Jeremy Hunt pledged would be used to ‘support community pharmacists with training and appropriate tools’ during his announcement of the ‘new deal’ for general practice last month.
Plans unveiled last week, following a successful pilot in 140 sites around England, will make the SCR available to approved community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians via a secure, monitored system.
A report evaluating the success of the pilots found 85% of pharmacists involved in pilots agreed, or strongly agreed that SCR access reduced the need for them to contact a patient’s GP.
It also shows that in 18% of encounters, SCR access helped to avoid a prescribing error.
Minister of state for community and social care Alistair Burt MP said: ‘Pharmacists are an untapped resource in our health service – as experts in medicines, they can help people to manage their conditions and take some of the pressure off our GPs.’
‘That’s why it makes complete sense to give them the ability to access patients’ summary care records, where appropriate.
“So we’re investing up to £7.5 million to give community pharmacists the training and tools they need to access a patient’s summary care record.’