This site is intended for health professionals only


RCGP calls for ‘minimum’ eight-week delay to GP patient record access rollout


delay record access


The RCGP has urged the health secretary to delay the rollout of patient access to their GP record by at least eight weeks to ensure guidance can be published for practices before it begins.

The programme, which will allow patients to have automatic access to their ‘future or prospective, full GP health record’ via the NHS app and other patient-facing apps, is due to be rolled out next month.

However, the RCGP has warned this will not give enough time for practices to assess the risks associated with the increased access, such as removing a level of clinical oversight and safeguarding.

The RCGP is updating its patient online toolkit, which will have guidance on these situations. However, it said this will not be ready until the end of March, giving limited time for practices to take steps to mitigate these risks.  

In a statement published on Friday, it said: ‘We are highly concerned that the current timeline of April 2022 does not allow for the necessary time and care to be taken.

‘This week, the RCGP has written to the secretary of state to set out these concerns and to request a minimum of an eight-week delay to ensure guidance can be properly rolled out.’

However, it added that the ‘most appropriate’ course of action would be to delay the process even longer.

‘We have also suggested that the most appropriate course of action would be a longer delay to allow time for piloting and a more gradual implementation approach to be adopted,’ it said.

The statement added that the RCGP is ‘committed to working to support patients to access and make best use of their GP records’.

But it said: ‘Patient access to their records is not without risk and we have a responsibility to represent our most vulnerable patients in highlighting the associated safeguarding risks.

‘These include the risk of possible harm to patients or third parties and to the clinician-patient relationship due to error, coercion or missed opportunities for appropriate clinical oversight and communication.’

Under the increased access, patients will see new information once it is entered or filed onto their record in the clinical system.

However, they will not see their historic or past health record information unless they’ve already been given access to it. Patients will also not have access to administrative tasks or communications between practice staff.

Practices that use TPP or EMIS systems will be expected to offer this service to patients, but discussions are still happening for practices using Vision.

NHS England is this month running sessions to help practices prepare for the launch.

In October, plans to enable patient access to GP records via the NHS app were delayed until April this year, after the BMA wrote to NHSX expressing its concerns about the timing of the rollout.

Patients will not yet be able to make changes to their GP record, although a Government white paper last month said that plans for patients to be able to access and contribute to their shared care records are ‘underway’.

A version of this story was first published by Pulse’s sister title Management in Practice

READERS' COMMENTS [1]

David Jenner 15 March, 2022 2:05 pm

Ask NHSE for their risk assessment and assurance from their Caldecott guardian that they consider this is safe .