patient health records

Policy topic

Pharmacists have a legitimate need to access patient health records, as the more information available to them when providing care to patients, the better the outcome for patients. Access to the patient’s health record, their laboratory results and previous treatment with medicines is routine for pharmacists working in hospitals, who would consider their practice unsafe without it.

An overwhelming majority of the British public - 85% according to a YouGov poll in August 2014 - want every healthcare professional treating them to have secure electronic access to key data from their GP record.

  • Access to the patient health record would improve patient safety
  • Access to the patient health record would improve medicines adherence
  • Access to the patient record would produce more robust records. 

As a first step toward access to the patient health record the RPS campaigned for all hospital and community pharmacies to have access to patients' summary care record. In June, the Health and Social Care Information Centre announced the national roll out of the SCR to community pharmacy, and £7.5m investment in the project.  The RPS was delighted with the move, and is now looking to the next step of full read and write access.

We recommend that:

  • NHS England should enable full read and write access to the patient health record for all pharmacists.
  • Read-write access to health records should be available to all healthcare professionals in patients' interests.

The RPS is advocating these positions through its representation on the Professional Record Standards Body and on the Health and Social Care Information Centre's Expert Advisory Committee on the Summary Care Record.

Pharmacist access to the Patient Health Record is also supported by the All-Party Pharmacy Group of MPs, and is one of the themes of the RPS’s Shaping Pharmacy for the Future work.

Our policy from 2014 supported pharmacist access to the Summary Care Record in England.

Policy documents

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