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A key enabler of our future

There has been a lot of discussion about pharmacist access to the electronic patient record. This has been acknowledged by health secretary Jeremy Hunt and to date has focused on read-only access to summary care records.

This is to be applauded as a first step but if pharmacists are to provide greater levels of care, such as managing long term conditions or being the first point of contact in managing common ailments, a limited information set will not be sufficient and we will need to be able to write to the record as well. Even with the current contractual framework GPs would have seen better value from medicines use reviews and the new medicine service if the outcome of consultations were recorded directly in the patient record rather than having to be sent by fax or email and transposed into the record. These responses would also be more informed because the rationale for the medication regimen would be more visible to the pharmacist.

At a recent meeting the new General Pharmaceutical Council chairman, Nigel Clarke, said that lack of access to contemporaneous patient records by all professionals involved in the care of a patient raised issues of safety, and the regulators should be raising this issue to get greater traction and increase the speed of change.

This is a key enabler of our future. We recognise there are others, such as:

  • The Faculty supporting the development of the key skills we will need in this new multidisciplinary world
  • The new contract which must become more outcomes focused to align our energies to the needs of patients
  • Technology introduction, which needs to be focused on freeing up professional time so that we can increase our face-to-face time to educate patients and support their needs to maximise health outcomes

Pharmacists must become fully integrated members of the health and care team and these are key components to achieving this.

The English Pharmacy Board has been a powerful advocate for change in these areas but particularly for access to the electronic patient record. Through pressure from board members regular questions have been asked in Parliament.

We both see this as such a critical issue that we have met MPs and ministers to press this case. This activity must be sustained until pharmacists have full read and write access and the new board must see this as a priority.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11138529

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