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Records access to go ahead after system supplier U-turn, BMA suggests

Records access to go ahead after system supplier U-turn, BMA suggests

Exclusive Patient records access in the NHS app will be switched on this month, despite system suppliers informing GP practices they were holding fire, the BMA has suggested.

The functionality, which will enable all patients to view their prospective GP record, had been due to go live today.

But both EMIS and TPP said in recent days they would not be making any practice-level system changes, after ‘requests from many GP practices’ with ‘GDPR and/or patient safety concerns’.

They added that they remained in ‘constructive dialogue’ with NHS England and would update practices ‘as we know more’.

But today the BMA suggested that the system suppliers have made a U-turn.

BMA IT policy lead Dr Mark Coley told LMCs, in a message seen by Pulse: ‘There appears to have been a change of approach in recent hours and that prospective access is going to be turned on imminently for any practice that hasn’t sent in a template letter, despite the messages from system suppliers yesterday saying they are not doing anything until a clear way forward has been found.’

Those who have not sent letters instructing their system supplier not to switch on the functionality will have it turned on ‘imminently’, while it will be turned on ‘regardless’ after a four-week delay on 30 November for those who have, he added.

‘For those that have sent in letters, we’re hearing access is going to be turned on regardless on 30 November (after a four-week delay),’ the message said.

In response, the BMA reiterated advice to bulk opt-out patients out of the automatic access until sufficient safety checks are completed.

Dr Coley said: ‘The only options for stopping an uncontrolled and chaotic rollout (without even considering the safety implications) is to send in a template letter or bulk add the enhanced review indicated code to your patient population.’

Practices that are ‘happy to have access turned’ on ‘don’t need to do anything’.

‘We will send more information when we have it,’ he added.

Pulse has approached BMA, NHS England, EMIS and TPP for comment.

BMA last week suggested that system suppliers who turn on automatic patient access to their records without the explicit consent of practices may be acting illegally.

The RCGP has also advised GP practices to consider opting patients out of the programme on the grounds of patient safety.

Yesterday, Pulse reported that one local commissioner has recommended that practices apply an ‘opt-in’ approach to automatic records access following a ‘clinical safety review’.

The road to prospective records access so far

NHS Digital had first intended for patients whose practices use TPP to 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’.

Meanwhile, Pulse revealed earlier this month that NHS England plans to enable patients to request their historic GP records through the NHS App from next year, as well as prospective records access.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Douglas Callow 1 November, 2022 11:38 am

what legal precedence is there for NHS digital to instruct a data processor to over ride a GP practice as data controller ? I wonder

Samir Shah 1 November, 2022 12:59 pm

? legal challenge

Patrufini Duffy 1 November, 2022 1:16 pm

Optum, a subsidiary of the US corporation United Health, now owns Emis Group.
The US and NHS are in corroboration to ensure that medicine is a dirty consumerist business full of legality, medicalisation and blame. Get out of their way – or give them a migraine using your own intellect and stop this nannying around and daily cover up of provision and altruism. Wake up.

Andrew Jackson 1 November, 2022 2:16 pm

There may or may not be health advantages to doing this but at best they will be long term benefits and the short term result is a complete experiment.
To do this ‘experiment’ in an understaffed service as we enter the busiest time of the year is just crazy.
We have recently seen the harm that can be done with a budget experiment.

Mark Essop 1 November, 2022 4:04 pm

Douglas, I think you just saw it. Who’s side do you think the ICO will take?

Douglas Callow 1 November, 2022 5:24 pm

Steve Barclay flexing his muscles early then
From BMA press centre

Urgent clarity needed on constantly changing Citizens’ Access patient data programme, says BMA
by BMA media office
Press release from the BMA

Location: England Published: Tuesday 1 November 2022

Responding to the Health and Social Care Secretary’s update on the Citizens’ Access programme today, in which he said the roll-out will now take place between November 1 and the end of the month, Dr David Wrigley, deputy chair of GPC England at the BMA, said:

“These day-by-day changes to the Citizens’ Access programme are incredibly concerning. It is absolutely not the way to handle such an important issue. The Health Secretary’s announcement has brought little clarity to the situation, and practices are understandably worried about what this means for them and their patients.

“Fundamentally, the issue of safety remains. Safety for patients and safety for practices. The profession, as well as the BMA, has repeatedly raised concerns that practices who are not yet ready, need time to properly prepare and carefully review data in order to protect patients.

“We need safe deployment when it comes to a system-wide change like this, not just high-level announcements with no detail for those actually involved in doing it. Implementing technical changes within live clinical environments in a way that could negatively impact patients’ lives is unacceptable. We urge NHS England to not only communicate, in detail, with the profession, about what is happening, but also to seriously reconsider the patient safety implications of hurrying out a programme like this.

“In the meantime, the BMA is committed to supporting practices and has compiled guidance on what to do.”


Patrufini Duffy 1 November, 2022 7:21 pm

What happens if they take class A illegal drugs? That’ll be glowing in green strobe lighting. They are all getting that coded up, post A+E palpitations and time wasting panic attack:

Crack cocaine, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), heroin, LSD, magic mushrooms, methadone, methamphetamine (crystal meth) – more prevalent than sertraline.

Sarah Machale 2 November, 2022 11:42 am

Absolutely incredible that yesterday millions of patient notes were written or documents processed in Primary Care in the belief as advised by LMCs, TPP and Emis that this had been suspended until adequately thought through

Now that data from Nov 1st is to be retrospectively released

What a textbook example of how not to implement change safely