HSCIC to work with NHS England and professional associations on implementation beginning in the autumn
Community pharmacists in England are finally to be given access to the NHS Summary Care Record (SCR) in an effort to increase their involvement in patient care.
The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) said it has been commissioned by NHS England to provide support to all community pharmacies in using the SCR. The implementation, which is scheduled to begin in the autumn, will involve other organisations including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, National Pharmacy Association and the General Pharmaceutical Council.
The SCR provides NHS clinicians with key patient data from their GP record, including medications, allergies and adverse reactions. Pharmacists will be subject to the same condition as the others in having to obtain explicit consent from the patient.
Alistair Burt, the minister for community and social care, said: "Pharmacists are an untapped resource in our health service - as experts in medicines, they can help people to manage their conditions and take some of the pressure off our GPs. That's why it makes complete sense to give them the ability to access patients' summary care records, where appropriate.
"So we're investing up to £7.5 million to give community pharmacists the training and tools they need to access a patient's summary care record.
The decision has after the completion in March of a proof of concept project involving 140 pharmacies in five parts of the country, taking in independent, chain and supermarket pharmacies. Access by pharmacies was always envisaged by the Labour government's NHS National Programme for IT, but was put on hold because of concerns about confidentiality.
An assessment of the project found that 82% of pharmacists agreed that having access to the SCR reduced the need for them to contact GPs, and that in 92% of encounters they did not have to direct the patient to other NHS care settings. Also, it avoided the risk of prescribing error in 18% of encounters.
The move can also be seen as a step towards easing the pressure on GPs in dealing with more routine conditions.
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