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RPS Scotland: government's current policy on access to patient records is 'entirely inadequate'

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Scotland has expressed disappointment at the Scottish government’s “underwhelming response” to calls for community pharmacists to be given full access to GP records.

On 4 December 2017, Miles Briggs, Scottish shadow cabinet secretary for health and sport, said the Scottish Conservatives “strongly believe that by enabling community pharmacists to access the GP record, people will receive better, safer and more accessible care”.

Briggs’ statement echoes the concerns of Alex MacKinnon, RPS director for Scotland, who recently said that Scotland is now “lagging behind” in pharmacist access to GP records. MacKinnon was speaking after Vaughan Gething’s announcement at RPS Wales’ recent Medicines Safety Conference that all pharmacies with access to the Choose Pharmacy IT system in Wales will be able to access the Welsh GP record by March 2018.

A Scottish government spokesperson said: “Community pharmacists across Scotland already have access to essential patient information through a dedicated NHS 24 phone line.”

In response, John McAnaw, chair of the RPS Scottish pharmacy board, said the Society believes the current situation is “entirely inadequate as it puts the patient’s needs last, delays patients’ access to care and takes up valuable and unnecessary time for the health professional”.

Access to GP records, he said, should be “prioritised as a matter of urgency”, and the first step should be to give community pharmacists equity of direct access to the Emergency Care Summary (ECS) across all of Scotland, followed by access to the Key Information Summary (KIS) and “immediate discharge information for those returning home from hospital”.

RPS Scotland has written to Shona Robison, cabinet secretary for health and wellbeing, to request an urgent meeting. The Society’s full response is available on the RPS website.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20204116

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