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GP patient records to be shared outside practices during pandemic

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GPs and ‘authorised health and care professionals’ will be able to access the records of patients registered at other practices during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

NHS Digital and NHSX have rolled out the GP Connect system across all GP practices, which also enables NHS 111 to directly book patients for appointments at GP practices.

It comes as earlier this month, GPs practices were told to free up appointments for direct booking by NHS 111’s Covid-19 assessment service (CCAS).

The NHS is also adding additional information to patients’ summary care record (SCR), which is available to a wider range of regulated health and care professionals, to include significant medical history (past and present), reasons for medications, care plan information and immunisations.

NHS Digital interim director of primary care technology Richard Alcock said the temporary measures come as ‘GPs and other frontline clinicians are increasingly finding themselves working differently’ during the pandemic.

He said this is seeing ‘normal working patterns disrupted and a greater pressure than seen before on the system’. 

‘Patients will now be able to have appointments booked at practices other than where they are registered as well as at a number of different healthcare settings.

‘However, for that to work in practice, their new clinicians will need to have swift access to pertinent medical information, such a previous medical history or medications prescribed, to treat them safely,’ he added.’

NHS Digital and NHSX has produced guidance for GP practices about the GP Connect change.