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Former health secretary Lansley backs pharmacy access to patient records

Andrew Lansley, former health secretary and Leader of the House of Commons, has joined his successor Jeremy Hunt, the current health secretary, in backing pharmacist access to patients’ records.

In a Parliamentary debate last week (16 January 2014), Mr Lansley argued that lack of access to the summary care record had been a “blockage” for the profession.

Mr Lansley was responding to a question from Oliver Colvile, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport and vice-chairman of the All-Party Pharmacy Group, about how pharmacists could relieve pressure on the NHS by having access to patients’ data. Mr Lansley replied that the current Government needed to make it possible for patients to have their conditions monitored and treated in pharmacies by providing access to a patient’s summary care record to pharmacists.

Speaking to PJ Online after the debate, Mr Colvile said that he believed that the Government will develop a national IT infrastructure for sharing patients’ records, but that it would be up to local commissioning bodies to implement access. “I will be pressing for this in my constituency,” he said. He added that the health secretary will want to see a demonstrable improvement in the services provided to patients as a result of pharmacists accessing patient records.

In Parliament, Mr Colvile opened the debate by making reference to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Commission on Future Models of Care. He said: “Given the Leader of the House’s commitment to putting pharmacists at the centre of the NHS, may we have a debate on how, by sharing data with pharmacists, we can work to take the pressure off GPs and accident and emergency units?”

Mr Lansley replied that the community pharmacy contract negotiated by the previous Labour government had “promised pharmacists much but delivered very little”. “One of the blockages … was pharmacists’ complete inability to access patients’ summary care records. We need to make it possible for patients to have their conditions monitored and treated and to be provided with medicines in pharmacies through access to that information,” said Mr Lansley.

He added: “There is clearly tremendous potential, previously unrealised, for pharmacy to contribute to public health and prevention, taking the load off the NHS, for example by dealing with minor injuries and medicines management.”

In addition, Mr Lansley said that NHS England and clinical commissioning groups have a “tremendous incentive” to use pharmacies and that local authorities could also use pharmacies for preventive measures. “I hope that they will do that,” he continued.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11133100

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