NHS Digital and NHSX have introduced a service named GP Connect for GPs to securely share patient records with each other during the Covid-19 pandemic.
They said it will give them access to primary care records of patients registered at other practices, along with the ability to share appointments to increase flexibility, and for NHS 111 staff to book consultations with GPs and specialist centres.
Additional information including significant medical history and reasons for medication will also be added to patients’ summary care records and made available to a wider group of authorised health and care professionals.
Patients will be able to express a preference for their information not to be shared, and those who have already done so will have their wish honoured.
NHS Digital and NHS said the changes – which will only be enabled for the duration of the pandemic – will increase information sharing across primary care, NHS 111 and other care settings.
It will initially be implemented by practices using EMIS software, with those using TPP and Vision to follow soon.
Richard Alcock, interim director of primary care technology at NHS Digital, said: “GPs and other frontline clinicians are increasingly finding themselves working differently, with normal working patterns disrupted and a greater pressure than seen before on the system.
“Patients will now be able to have appointments booked at practices other than where they are registered as well as at a number of different healthcare settings. However, for that to work in practice, their new clinicians will need to have swift access to pertinent medical information, such a previous medical history or medications prescribed, to treat them safely.”
The work on GP Connect was commissioned by NHSX, the digital policy unit in the Department for Health and Social Care, and delivered by NHS Digital, technology services provider for the health service.
While the arrangement is due to run only as long as the Covid-19 emergency notice is in force, the organisations said they will be reviewing the experience of patients and clinicians to consider whether there could be benefits in retaining them when the period comes to an end. Any such proposals would be subject to consultation.
Image by Sergio Santos, CC BY 2.0