NHS patients to get full medical records access by 2016

Health secretary announces ambitious plan to extend patients’ access to their medical data.

All NHS patients in England will be given read and write access to their full medical records via the internet and through smartphone apps by 2016, the Department of Health (DH) has announced. In the image, a man touches the screen on a tablet

NHS patients in England will be able to electronically access and contribute to their full medical records by 2016, the Department of Health (DH) has announced.

Patients will be able to see and offer amendments to their records via the internet and through smartphone apps under what health secretary Jeremy Hunt called a new “intelligent transparency” in the health service.

Hunt conceded that the NHS needed to regain public trust in its ability to protect patient data and will immediately begin work to strengthen the independent oversight of security.

The health secretary told attendees at NHS England’s Health and Care Innovation Expo 2015 in Manchester on 2 September 2015 that improving patient access to data and records would encourage people to become more engaged in their health, which would improve health outcomes.

“Evidence from all over the world is that when patients start accessing their medical record, they start to think about their healthcare in a different way,” he said. “When you have shared access to a medical record it becomes a shared endeavour [with your doctor]. The world’s most powerful patients become the world’s healthiest patients as well.”

He said around 97% of GP practices currently offer patients access to a summary of their records, up from 3% a year ago.

NHS England is aiming for a quarter of all smartphone users in England to be accessing services electronically — including checking their health record or booking GP appointments — as well as using apps to access their medical information within three years.

In a statement released to coincide with Hunt’s speech, the DH said patient access to their full medical record, including blood test results, appointment records and medical histories, would be extended to access to all “health and care interactions” by 2018.

Hunt also vowed that a patient’s health record will be accessible by NHS service providers anywhere in the country, with a patient’s consent.

Hunt said the plans would be “completely affordable” within current budgets.

The Care Quality Commission will be asked to conduct a “thorough and independent” investigation into the robustness of patient data security on the ground across the NHS. The government will also consult on giving the role of national data guardian for health and care, a position held by Dame Fiona Caldicott since 2014, a new statutory footing to give more power to patients to secure health data.

Community pharmacists in England learned as recently as June 2015 that they would be granted access to the summary care record from the autumn.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 12 September 2015, Vol 295, No 7879;295(7879):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20069269

You may also be interested in