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Lack of transparency in Scotland may affect patient record pledge

News team

ALTHOUGH the Scottish Government has committed to giving pharmacists online access to patient health records there is some question over where the money for it is being held. This is one issue that is being affected by a lack of transparency in health spending in Scotland.

Stakeholders from a range of organisations — including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the British Medical Association, voluntary sector organisations and trade unions — called for more information about how NHS boards spend their money, and how this influences Government budget allocations, during an evidence session about the Scottish government’s draft budget for 2012–13.

A spokesman from RPS Scotland told The Journal it would work hard to ensure the patient record pledge is fulfilled. However, money that was formerly in the pharmacy pot for developing IT services has been reduced or switched over to NHS National Services Scotland. Meanwhile, responsibility for delivering new IT records systems has been placed with “ad hoc consortia” of health boards. Without greater transparency of spending data it will be difficult to track whether the records access agenda is being pursued, the spokesman said.

There was a general feeling at the evidence session that plans to integrate health and social care in Scotland (PJ 2012;289:286) are going to prove difficult and spending information needs to be more readily available if stakeholders are to contribute to the new policy. MSP Jim Eadie suggested that community pharmacy could be the answer to some of the efficiency challenges the NHS is now facing. He stressed the need to boost community pharmacists’ role, so that they can help improve medicines use and get better, more efficient patient outcomes.

The Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee aims to report its findings to the Finance Committee in mid to late November 2012.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11110212

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