Clear consensus on need for sharing of information across health services

Last week our Practice & Policy Lead, Aileen Bryson, gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Health & Sport Committee on technology and innovation in health and social care. This was based on our submission to the Health & Sport Committee, earlier this year.

In our submission and during the evidence session we raised some key urgent concerns regarding the lack of ability to share information across our health services and professions, which were echoed by the other witnesses from the University of Edinburgh, Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care, the Care Inspectorate, Argyll & Bute Health and Social Care Partnership, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Scotland, the Digital Health and Care Institute and the Information Commissioner's Office.

Another key concern was raised by Health & Sport Committee member, Maree Todd MSP (Now the Minister for Childcare and Early Years), regarding the differences across sectors of pharmacy in terms of being able to access information.

Maree Todd MSP, said: “When I was working as a pharmacist, I was struck by the differences in the profession: community pharmacists have no access to data and hospital pharmacists have access to all the data. In the hospital, I could access medical notes and lab results. That situation makes it impossible for community pharmacists to fulfil their pharmaceutical care obligations.”

Responding to this, Aileen highlighted that: “We have a situation where the same health professional can access different information depending on where they work: if they work in the community, they cannot access some things that they are able to access if they work in a GP practice. Many pharmacists work in a hybrid model and that seems to be working well because they know the patients really well.”

“As the Royal College of Emergency Medicine has said, out-of-hours care is exactly where it falls down. As Jenny Gilruth MSP says, that is important for continuity of care. There are patient safety issues—we have lots of examples of where patients can be put at risk because high-risk medicines need to be monitored and not everyone has access to the information. That includes social care, where there have been examples of pharmacists going round the houses to get information from social care, which, had it been at their fingertips, would have been very helpful when going into a domiciliary visit.”

The full official report is available to read to see all the issues raised alongside the official report of this week’s session with the Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing, Shona Robison MSP, who referenced the important contribution of pharmacists on several occasions during the session.