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Community pharmacies to gain access to summary care record

Pilots allowed pharmacists to reduce extra work for GPs

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Access to patients’ summary care records (SCR) is to be rolled out to community pharmacists across England later this year, it has been announced.

Pilots of a scheme giving community pharmacists secure, approved and monitored access to the SCR with its key clinical information about a patient, sourced from the GP record, have proved successful.

More than 96% of the population have an SCR and it is already used in many settings across the NHS, such as A&E departments, hospital pharmacies, NHS 111 and GP out of hours services and walk-in centres.

Pilots organised by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) ran at 140 pharmacies across five geographical areas (West Yorkshire and Sheffield, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire and Somerset).

A report* assessing the effectiveness of the scheme found that SCR access in community pharmacies led to many benefits to patients, pharmacy and general practice, including:

  • in 92% of encounters where SCR was accessed, the pharmacist avoided the need to signpost the patient to other NHS care settings
  • 56% of these encounters would have been signposted to the GP practice, 22% to GP out of hours/NHS 111, and 1% to A&E
  • 85% of pharmacists surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that SCR reduced the need for them to contact the patient’s GP
  • in 18% of encounters, the risk of a prescribing error was avoided.

Implementation of the scheme across England will begin this autumn and the HSCIC will work in partnership with NHS England and with other organisations including the PSNC, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Pharmacy Voice, National Pharmacy Association and General Pharmaceutical Council throughout the planning and delivery phases.

Health minister Alistair Burt 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.

“A pilot has already shown that as a result of this, as many as nine out of ten people can get the help they need from their pharmacist without having to be sent to another service. I encourage all community pharmacists to get involved and further improve the care we can give people in their communities.”

* Community pharmacy access to Summary Care Records - Proof of Concept report. Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2015.

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