Pharmacist access to the patient health record

We believe that, with patient consent, all pharmacists directly involved in patient care should have full read and write access to the patient health record in the interest of high quality, safe and effective patient care. 

Access to the patient’s health record, their laboratory results and previous treatment with medicines is routine for pharmacists working in hospitals. These pharmacists would consider their practice unsafe to have no such access. We believe that there should be full read and write access to the patient health record by all pharmacists.

We are aware that this could be a stepwise process, with the first step being access to the Summary Care Record, which has already been achieved in England. The RPS wants to see a staged development of this initiative towards pharmacists read-write access to the single complete patient health record.


To enhance patient safety and enable continuity of care RPS is calling for:

  • Full read and write access to the patient health record for all pharmacists involved in a patient's care with the patient's consent
  • One single patient health record where all essential information is stored. All registered health and social care professionals involved in the patient journey to have appropriate access to the patient health record with the patient or their designated carer's explicit consent. 

Prof. Keith Willet, Director of Acute Episodes of Care, NHS England discusses whether pharmacists should have read-write access to the Summary Care Record.


RPS Peninsular LPF Chair Nick Kaye sharing shares his experience of how access to care records improves patient care.

Pharmacist James Wood, from Wicker Pharmacy, Sheffield, speaking about how access to summary care records is improving his service to patients. 

What others are saying

“Pharmacists and pharmacy teams need to have read-write access to patient records if we are to deliver high quality, joined-up care to patients. Without this kind of information sharing and collaboration among health professionals the NHS will struggle to achieve the efficiency gains it needs.  

"The All-Party Pharmacy Group has consistently pressed for this. It was one of the vital actions we called on the new government to implement in our 'First 100 Days' plan after the election.  We're encouraged that a first step has been taken in introducing access to the Summary Care Record.

"That is welcome, but we need to go further and introduce read-write access to the patient record so that pharmacists can play their full part in delivering high quality care to patients. The sooner we do it, the better for patients and the NHS. We are meeting Health Minister Alistair Burt MP very soon and this will be among the high priority issues that we will be raising with him.” 

The Rt Hon Sir Kevin Barron, Chair of the All Party Pharmacy Group

“In principle, giving community pharmacists access to patients’ relevant medical records – in the way that pharmacists based in GP practices will have - will be a good thing for patients and encourage more joined up working across the health and social care sectors. 

“Pharmacists – like GPs – are highly trusted healthcare professionals and this move could further foster a more personalised pharmacist-patient relationship, and has the potential to improve the overall patient experience. 

“There are also potential patient-safety benefits as giving pharmacists access to relevant information will help them to give advice to patients based on an accurate medical and drug history. 

“It will be imperative that individual patient’s consent is given before giving pharmacists access to their records – and patients will need to be assured that as healthcare professionals, pharmacists are bound by the same confidentiality rules as GPs. Nevertheless, any access to medical records would need sufficient safeguards to ensure that the information is used properly and only in the best interests of patients.”

Professor Nigel Mathers, RCGP Honorary Secretary

"People with diabetes often have complex medical needs and often rely on a broad range of medications to enable them to self-manage their condition effectively, whether Type 1 or Type 2. 

The role of the pharmacist is often vital in this, helping people with Medication Use Reviews and ensuring that the correct medication is being prescribed and dispensed. 

As a key member of the multi-disciplinary team, supporting people with diabetes, it seems only logical to give pharmacists access to the individual’s health record (with their permission) not only to ensure they fully understand the person’s diabetes but that any changes or recommendations they may make are included on the record so that other healthcare professionals are kept informed of these interventions."

Simon O’Neill, Director of Health Intelligence, Diabetes UK

“Pharmacists play a vital role in ensuring people with Parkinson’s achieve good control of their symptoms through medication and so have the best possible quality of life. 

Medication routines can be complex and as Parkinson’s is a progressive condition, may also change over time. To ensure the right routine is maintained, pharmacists should have access to the most up-to-date and accurate patient information and be able to add to this when necessary to improve the patients’ holistic care. 

"However, patient privacy is paramount. Patients need to be fully aware of who has access to their records and there needs to be stringent safeguards in place to ensure that this information is only ever used for direct patient care so that people with Parkinson’s are able to access the highest standard of support.”

Steve Ford, Chief Executive at Parkinson's UK