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NHS England’s head of business systems hints at progress towards records access for pharmacists

A top NHS England official has indicated that the summary care record could be extended to the 11,000 community pharmacies in the country. Richard Jefferson, head of business systems at NHS England, has also revealed to PJ Online that plans are being developed so that in the future patients will be able to grant pharmacists fuller access to their medical record.  

The comments were made in response to questions about NHS England’s support for community pharmacy access to records and the feasibility of extending the SCR to community pharmacies. Mr Jefferson told PJ Online: “In the short term, [the] summary care record, as an existing solution, could deliver access at the scale required to approximately 11,000 community pharmacies. NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre are currently looking at what it would take to extend the current business case for SCR to include community pharmacy,” he said.

He went further, saying: “As NHS England stated in the ‘[Safer hospital, safer wards:] achieving an integrated digital care record’ guidance that was issued last July [2013], our longer term ambition is that patients have access to a much fuller, detailed medical record pulling information from across care settings. With the right information governance and identity assurance mechanisms, access could also be granted by the patient to their local pharmacist, in the same way as patients would grant access to a carer or relative.  The roadmap to achieving this is being developed.”

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, with Pharmacy Voice, recently published a professional position statement advocating access to patients’ records for pharmacists; the RPS welcomed NHS England’s statement and said it was looking forward to working with the organisation to deliver access to records for community pharmacists.

Heidi Wright, policy and practice lead at the RPS, told PJ Online: “We will be working with patient groups and royal colleges to outline what this would look like in practice and how both patients and the wider NHS would benefit from pharmacists having access to the patient record.

“We believe that information is key to reducing medicine errors, improving medicines adherence and delivering safe and more effective care to patients.”

NHS England is responsible for commissioning the SCR project and has put the HSCIC in charge of rolling it out across the country. This roll-out currently includes hospital, but not community, pharmacies. Compared with the 260 hospital pharmacies in the country, extending the SCR to the approximately 11,000 community pharmacies would be a “big undertaking” and require substantial resources, said Mohammed Hussain SCR pharmacy lead at the HSCIC.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11132935

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