Tuesday 14 January 2014 marked the beginning of the journey for pharmacists to gain full read-and-write access to patient records.
On that date health secretary Jeremy Hunt agreed that community pharmacists be given read access to the summary care record. As the public affairs lead for the English Pharmacy Board I have been involved in this campaign since my election four years ago. Now, with support from the pharmacy minister Alistair Burt, this has become a reality.
Until pharmacists can populate the patient record we continue to work in silos, denying fellow healthcare professionals key information such as influenza vaccination records and completed medicines use reviews (MURs).
During MURs patients may provide information on diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol intake and sexual health. After a new medicine service important compliance and side effect data are gathered. Other pharmacy services enable capturing of key biometric data. This should be shared with GPs and nurses, maximising value for the NHS.
Regarding management of repeat medicines for long-term conditions, non-dispensed items information is not fed back to GPs. Yet this is essential in monitoring patient well-being and medicines compliance, and identifying excessive use and waste.
We need electronic transfer of care. So much time is wasted contacting hospitals and surgeries to check medication records after discharge. An electronic copy of the discharge sheet on the patient record should be shared with the surgery, pharmacy and patient.
Write access will not bring utopia. Challenges like legal liability if information is not accessed or inappropriate sharing of information will arise. This will change the way we practise, and may become more time consuming.
But next time an elderly patient presents saying: “I’ve run out of my little white heart pills”, instead of struggling to identify that medicine, with consent, access to the patient record will enable supply which can be relayed back to the GP straight away.
We already abide by our code of ethics where patient confidentiality is paramount and only relevant information is accessed. So let us get write access to patient records for pharmacists, gain confidence in NHS speak, embrace GP terminology and work in partnership.
Let us embrace patient-based remuneration, with an ongoing contract of care integral to medicines supply.
I pledge to campaign for write access to patients records to be delivered within this next three-year term of office if elected.
English Pharmacy Board
Royal Pharmaceutical Society