Access to Summary Care Records for all pharmacists in England – the benefits for the profession and patients

david-branford1By David Branford, FRPharmS

The long hoped for rollout of community pharmacist access to the Summary Care Record (SCR) across the whole of England has been announced. I believe this is a great development for the pharmacy profession.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board (EPB) has been lobbying hard in this area for a number of years as we recognise that having access to information about a patient’s medicines can improve both the quality and safety of care delivered to patients. In 2013 we published a joint position statement with Pharmacy Voice which outlined the benefits to patients and the wider NHS if pharmacists had access to records.

This was followed by a RPS England policy briefing published in September 2014.

We have maintained a public affairs campaign in Parliament and the Department of Health for several years, with parliamentary questions and debate at the All Party Pharmacy Group contributing to our influencing of public policy. We are grateful to Oliver Colvile MP whom we supported in asking questions in the House of Commons on why pharmacists did not have access to this vital information.

The proof of concept pilots have demonstrated that having access to the SCR in a community pharmacy can:

  • Improve efficiency by reducing waiting times for patients as the pharmacists can access the record instead of trying to contact the GP when there is a query about a patient’s medicines
  • Improve patient safety by ensuring that the right dose and type of medicines are supplied, particularly in an emergency supply situation.

We are delighted that the roll-out process has now begun. We will work closely with our colleagues in the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), NHS England and other pharmacy organisations to ensure that resources are developed in time for the first pharmacies to go live which is expected August or September 2015. The full roll-out to all community pharmacies is expected to take around 18 months. The RPS will be supporting the profession in making sure this happens smoothly.

Patient organisations have also supported this move and a number of supportive statements can be found on our campaign webpage.

This is a great the first step in getting community pharmacy connected to the information needed to improve patient care. The RPS is continuing our dialogue with the institutions to gain read/write access for relevant pharmacy staff. To find out more about this campaign visit our dedicated campaigns page on the RPS website. You can show your support by tweeting about our campaign using #healthrecords.

David Branford, FRPharmS

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