Mon 10 Aug 2015

Pharmacy Voice respond to the Daily Telegraph article, ‘Tesco can see your medical records’

Responding to the recent article in The Telegraph, (Boots, Tesco and Superdrug to get access to NHS medical records – Monday 10 August 2015) Pharmacy Voice said:

 

“Pharmacy Voice has long called for record access by community pharmacists to further enhance patient safety and care. We have worked closely with the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) and our members through the Proof of Concept phase while the plans were tested, and the evidence shows that giving pharmacists access to patients’ Summary Care Records enables pharmacy teams to deliver better care, and help provide a more consistent service to patients. Representatives of patients groups have agreed that the effective flow of information between professionals, which SCR access enables, is vital to ensuring safer, more coordinated and more person-centred care.

“We are therefore disappointed with the misleading and inaccurate article recently published in The Telegraph. The article suggested that companies will have access to patients’ medical records, and could use this data to sell vulnerable customers their products. This is categorically untrue. 

“Our members recognise the importance of data protection and patient confidentially, and fully support the controls the NHS will put in place to place to monitor and audit access to the Summary Care Record.  Individual pharmacists accessing a patient’s Summary Care Record will only be able to do so with the consent of the patient, and they must have an NHS Smartcard with a chip and a passcode. Every access will be recorded by the NHS and traceable back to the individual who accessed it. Private medical information will never be linked to a patient's store loyalty cards or any marketing promotions.

“Pharmacy professionals are subject to regulation in the same way as doctors and nurses and any breach of confidentiality would be subject to regulatory investigation. Data protection law forbids any use of personal patient data beyond individual patient care.

“As with all new developments in the way the NHS delivers care, roll out and implementation of the Summary Care Records needs to be properly supported. This is why Pharmacy Voice is working closely with NHS England and (HSCIC) to ensure that pharmacy teams are fully trained in using the system and made aware of any potential issues surrounding its use, including ensuring patients have given permission for their record to be viewed.”

James Wood, Superintendent Pharmacist / Director, Wicker Pharmacy, Sheffield where access to the Summary Care record has been trialled said: “Having access to the SCR has been extremely beneficial, especially as an additional tool to help and support pharmacists respond to requests for emergency supplies of medication and other episodes of unscheduled care. Many patients have benefited from us having access, reducing the need for onward referral – resulting in safer, more convenient and efficient care. Widespread access to SCR is a positive development, but should be seen as the first part of the journey to full read and write access of patient records"

RPS, PSNC and Pharmacy Voice issued a joint letter to the Telegraph in response which is in part published today.  Below is the full version that was sent to the paper:

Sir,

It is wholly misleading to assert that commercial companies will have access to the NHS Summary Care Record (Tesco can see your medical records, Monday 10 August).

Individual pharmacists accessing the record will only be able to do so with the consent of the patient and they must have an NHS Smartcard with a chip and a passcode.  Every access will be recorded by the NHS and traceable back to the individual who accessed it.  Private medical information will never be linked to patient’s store loyalty cards or any marketing promotions.

Pharmacists are subject to the same degree of regulation as doctors and nurses and any breach of confidentiality would be subject to regulatory investigation. Data protection law forbids any use of personal patient data beyond individual patient care.

Pharmacists’ access to the record has shown real benefit to patients and over-stretched GPs.  For example, in 18% of cases where the record was accessed, the risk of a prescribing error was avoided.  In 92% of cases, the pharmacist had enough information to treat the patient and avoid sending them to their GP surgery or A&E.

The Summary Care Record does not include diagnoses, information is currently restricted to medicines prescribed, patient allergies and known adverse reactions to medicines.

Currently, poor care can result because different health professionals treating the same patient don’t have access to vital health information.
 
This is totally unacceptable and patients agree with this too.  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.

The increasing demands on the health care systems means that all professionals need to work better together helping people get the right care, at the right time, in the right place. Pharmacists as experts in medicines need the right information to provide better care to patients.

Yours faithfully

Sandra Gidley, Royal Pharmaceutical Society Board Chair for England
Sue Sharpe, Chief Executive, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee
Rob Darracott, Chief Executive, Pharmacy Voice

Notes to editors

Pharmacy Voice is an association of trade bodies which brings together and speaks on behalf of community pharmacy. Pharmacy Voice is formed by the three largest community pharmacy owner associations. Together we are a stronger, unified voice for community pharmacy.

For more information please contact Stewart Laing on stewart.laing@salixandco.com / 020 8675 4779 / 07725 555030