Press Release

RPS in Scotland questions Scottish Government commitment to records access for community pharmacists

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland has with concern noted the Scottish Government’s underwhelming response in relation to the Scottish Conservatives’ call to give community pharmacists access to full GP records. This comes after the recent Welsh Assembly Government announcement giving Welsh community pharmacists access to the Welsh GP records from April 2018 and when English community pharmacists have had access to the Summary Care Records since June 2015.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Community pharmacists across Scotland already have access to essential patient information through a dedicated NHS 24 phone line.”

Dr John McAnaw, Chair of the Scottish Pharmacy Board, said: “The RPS in Scotland is clear that the current arrangement for community pharmacists is entirely inadequate as it puts the patient’s needs last, delays patient’s access to care and takes up valuable and unnecessary time for the health professional involved at both NHS 24 and in the community pharmacy. It does not reflect the Scottish Government’s strategic aim of transforming primary care with a technology-enabled health and social care system, as set out in its draft vision for ‘Digital Health and Social Care Strategy 2017-22’, nor does it reflect the commitment to person-centred care envisaged for community pharmacists and outlined in their strategy for pharmacy, 'Achieving Excellence in Pharmaceutical Care'.“

“The Scottish Government has an opportunity to address this as part of their Information Governance work stream and we look forward to input our views to ensure the level of governance we put in place is appropriate, and that it does not compromise the delivery of safe and effective patient care. We have also shared our views in the development of the forthcoming Digital Health and Social Care Strategy, and hope this will reflect a more ambitious plan for health and social care delivery for the Scottish public. 

“We are calling for this to be prioritised as a matter of urgency to ensure that, as a first and immediate step, community pharmacists have equity of direct access to the ECS across all of Scotland[1], followed by access to the Key Information Summary (KIS) and immediate discharge information for those returning home from hospital. We are also calling on the Scottish Government to commit to delivering the necessary infrastructure to ensure that in due course all registered health and social care professionals directly involved in patient care have appropriate read and write access to health records.[2]”

The RPS in Scotland has formally written to the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Shona Robison MSP, requesting an urgent meeting.


[1] In NHS Tayside a clinical portal is being piloted in a small number of community pharmacies with explicit patient consent, giving access to the ECS, KIS, all GP data, laboratory results and it connects with the software system currently used by allied health professionals and nurses on home visits facilitating a true multidisciplinary approach to patient care. This supports a multidisciplinary approach to patient care and is being piloted for use in outreach dementia clinics by a community pharmacist independent prescriber. It has been extremely useful in checking test results, dealing with issues on hospital discharge especially with compliance devices, medication change queries and providing a diagnosis to support Chronic Medication Service medication reviews. It is expected that this access will be rolled out to all community pharmacies in Tayside. Access to ECS has been granted to some pharmacies where a local need was identified and the community pharmacist was the most accessible health professional at weekends. Other examples include one rural area where a pilot study has now been agreed because the lack of GP cover at weekends has resulted in a steadily increasing requirement for the community pharmacist to phone NHS 24 to access the ECS to obtain essential medicines history and allergy information to safely provide treatment for a minor illness or repeat medication items. Lack of pharmacist access to this information has the potential to compromise patient safety in the use of medicines.

[2] For more information regarding our views on access to records/sharing of information please see: Pharmacist Access to the Patient Health Record, and our joint principles with all the professions involved in primary care (Primary care clinical professions group): Principles for a technology-enabled health and social care service, both accessed Wednesday 6 December 2017.