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Patient access to online records to be restricted to ‘prospective’ information, says minister

Ministers have said that patients will not be able to read any retrospective information from their GP records when they are allowed to access them online next year.

Health minister Dr Dan Poulter told MPs that the Government had decided that patient record access will be ‘prospective’ from the time they are allowed access in 2015.

The move follows advice from the RCGP, in their ‘Patient Online: The Road Map’ sign-posting document published last year, which argued that the risks of patients seeing unsuitable information would pile work on practices to check all retrospective records.

Dr Poulter said in response to a parliamentary question: ‘Electronic access to patient records will cover new information placed on the patient’s record from the point that online access is made available in the patient’s general practitioner practice.’

‘This will apply to both existing patients and any new patients who register at the practice.’

The Government has an aim for all patients to have access to online patient records no later than April 2015, but the plans have been significantly watered down over recent months.

Pulse revealed last year that the GP contract for 2014/15 will include the requirement for GPs to provide online access to the information included in the Summary Care Record ‘as a minimum’. NHS England also recently said it is looking at introducing a ‘time delay’ so GPs can manage how ‘certain test results are communicated’ in patient records.

A spokesperson for NHS England told Pulse: ‘We are developing definitive guidance on data sets and technical requirements for record access that will ensure maximum benefits to patients in managing their own health and care.’

‘We plan to publish this guidance early in 2014. The recommendation of what data should be accessible will go beyond the contractual minimum defined in the GMS contract.’