The RPS is calling for pharmacists to have secure, electronic access to a single up-to-date patient record to enable the delivery of safer, more effective, high quality care. The move would improve medicine use, keep patients and health professionals better informed and provide more holistic patient care.
The NHS in England has already announced a programme to roll out Summary Care Record
access to community pharmacies across England, after pilots showed this level of access reduced unnecessary visits to the GP and avoidable medicine errors.
The RPS wants to see a staged development of this initiative towards pharmacist read-write access to the single complete electronic health record for all patients which is currently in development across Great Britain.
Robust governance will ensure records are accessed by pharmacists together with other relevant health professionals only when there is a clinical need and only with the consent of the patient.
Focus groups held in Scotland by RPS revealed that patients support pharmacist access to full patient records where patients themselves choose, and explicitly consent to, who may access the information.
Where technology allows, some electronic health records are already shared between GPs, some staff in hospitals and some emergency services. Pharmacist access to this record would allow better working between pharmacists and GPs and hospital consultants when treating patients.
With the ability to also update health records, pharmacists could provide GPs with dispensing updates and add information when patients transfer from one care setting to another, for example a hospital admission.
Chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board Sandra Gidley said:
"It is vital for patient safety that informed decision making is at the centre of all health care interventions. Full, patient led access to health records would greatly enhance the ability of pharmacists to add information as well as to read appropriate information regarding a patient's care. We have proven successfully through the recent pilot of pharmacist's access to the Summary Care Record that patient care is enhanced by appropriate access to information."
"The RPS believes that patient care and medicine safety will be improved if pharmacists have "read and write" access to patient records. This would also allow the NHS to maximise the value of the significant investment it makes in medicines."
Acting Vice Chair of the Welsh Pharmacy Board, Paul Harris, said:
“Ensuring pharmacists have read and write access to the patient health record is vital for improving patient care and increasing patient safety. Pharmacists need up to date patient information to confidently make decisions about medicines and to offer effective advice.
“Access to patient information will allow the pharmacy profession to play an even greater role in the provision of safe and effective health care in Wales. It will further contribute to the prudent healthcare approach which depends upon a coordinated and collaborative approach between health professionals and people in Wales.”
Chair of the Scottish Pharmacy Board Dr John McAnaw said:
"As members of the health and social care teams across Scotland, pharmacists play a key role in delivering pharmaceutical care to patients and the public. With the emergence of community health hubs in the near future, and a drive for more pharmacist prescribers in our communities, the time has come for pharmacists to have direct access to the patient record.
“With an ageing population resulting in greater use of medicines across a growing range of conditions, access to the patient record will enable pharmacists to do more for a larger number of patients in our communities at the point of care than at present. It will also minimise the number of occasions where pharmacists will have to make decisions around medicines with only minimal information, which can be a particular problem at weekends and public holidays. Access to the patient record will clearly help reduce risks to patient safety whilst also improving patient outcomes from the use of medicines.
“I believe access to the patient record will be a key enabler for the pharmacy profession and increase their contribution to patient care further, and I look forward to working constructively with our stakeholders to make it happen."