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We need read-and-write access to patient records

When would you think a campaign has achieved success? Is it when you have the idea adopted widely? Is it with a ministerial statement? Is it when it appears in a policy statement? Is it when pilots of the concept start or is it when it is finally in use everywhere and regarded as normal practice? This issue has been exercising the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s english Pharmacy Board in recent weeks in relation to patient records.

Our programme of work to achieve agreement over access to patient records has been ongoing for some time. Sid Dajani, RPS treasurer and ePB member, and heidi Wright, RPS policy and practice lead for england, have been toiling away at the IT side of this agenda for the past couple of years. On the other hand, ePB member Sibby Buckle and RPS head of public affairs Charles Willis have enabled the issue to be raised in Parliament and then, a couple of months ago, Oliver Colvile, MP, requested a joint visit between Devon pharmacists and Jeremy hunt, Secretary of State for health. At this meeting Colvile was asked by hunt to be pharmacy champion. Since then he has continued to campaign on this and other pharmacy issues.

Let us be clear what we are asking for: we want full read-and-write access to the patient record. So how do we respond to the proposal to develop a number of community pharmacy pilot sites of the summary care record (SCR)? Does this signify that the RPS campaign has achieved its goal?

As much as this is a welcome development and we are grateful for this first step, it shows that such campaigns need to be sustained for long periods both at local and national level. Local pharmacists need to work with their local GPs to get full access to the record.

Currently, the summary care record does not cover laboratory results

Included within all GP systems is access to pathology information. Currently the SCR does not cover recent or past laboratory results. In fact the fields the SCR covers are extremely limited (past and current prescriptions, allergies and a few demographic details).

Although this information is incredibly useful to hospital and other settings that are required to undertake medicines reconciliation, for community pharmacists the SCR is limited in value. This, again, would favour local pharmacists seeking access to the GP system because it would cover pathology information. having access to these results is an important step forward for pharmacy and discussions are under way with the Royal College of Pathologists to investigate whether greater access can occur through expanding the fields available on the SCR or another mechanism. nevertheless, an even greater challenge is incorporating it into normal pharmacy practice. The aim must be for pharmacists to be as expert as doctors at interpreting the relevance of the tests used to support safe drug treatment and, ultimately, to be able to order and take blood samples as a part of our normal practice.

Open doors

The Royal College of General Practitioners hosted an early intervention in cancer summit with NHS england, Macmillan Cancer Support, Cancer Research UK and the national Awareness of early Diagnosis initiative to which the RPS was invited. In preparation I had received from a colleague an overview of the various pharmacy-led initiatives in this area and was ready and prepared to highlight the role of pharmacists and pharmacy. It turns out I did not need to worry since there was a pro-pharmacy presentation by Anthony Brzezicki from Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group about the early detection programme in pharmacy. When it came for me to speak, the doors were already open and I can assure you that access to services through pharmacies is now at the top of the agenda.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20065765

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