NHS England will switch on automatic access to patient’s prospective GP record via the NHS App in November, following a delay due to ‘safeguarding’ concerns.
In a letter to all GP practices sent last week, NHS England primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani and primary care director Dr Ursula Montgomery confirmed the launch date, which will include practices using TPP and EMIS systems.
Work is ‘ongoing’ with Cegedim (previously Vision) to enable the same function, the letter added.
NHS Digital had first intended for patients whose practices use TPP would be first to have access to new entries in their GP notes through the NHS app from December 2021 – with EMIS practices to follow this year.
But the launch date was delayed until April 2022 for both systems, after the BMA wrote to NHSX expressing its concerns about the timing of the rollout.
It was then delayed again, with NHS England recognising concerns around ‘safeguarding’, but it remained unclear when the launch would finally take place.
Under the plans, patients will not be able to make changes to their GP records at this time, although a Government white paper published in February said that plans were ‘underway’ for patients to be able to access and contribute to their shared care record.
NHS England said the revised timeline will give ‘additional time for teams to prepare, access support, identify individuals potentially at-risk, build staff confidence and embed training’, they said.
They emphasised that ‘this does not change the status of general practices as a data controller or alter existing obligations to promote and offer access to historic information’.
The letter said: ‘There is now a revised timeline for the automatic switch on of prospective access. On 01 November 2022, patients at practices using TPP and EMIS systems will automatically have access to their prospective records online.’
In order to prepare for patient access to the records, Dr Kanani and Dr Montgomery asked GP teams to identify patients who may be ‘at risk of serious harm’ from having automatic access to their records and ‘ensure the right safeguarding processes are in place to support access to all future data’.
Their letter added that ‘an individual review may be required to exclude patients from having access due to a risk of serious harm’.
And they said practices can ‘consider increasing the number of patients who have online access and/or enhance their level of access gradually over coming months prior to automatic rollout’.
The process of this should be ‘locally determined’ and could include ‘wider patient promotion’ or ‘improving the current default access level being provided’.
Practices wanting to make prospective access available to all of their patients ahead of November should email england.NHSXimplementation@nhs.net, the letter said.
The Government announced in its final data strategy that it is considering ‘mandating’ access for patients to their GP records, as is done in the United States.
Government-commissioned review lead Professor Ben Goldacre previously said that trying to re-launch the data sharing programme last year was ‘a mistake’ before a ‘trusted research environment’ had been guaranteed.