Overwhelming majority of public in favour of sharing their GP records

Nearly nine in 10 members of the British public want all healthcare professionals treating them to have electronic access to key data from their GP records, a YouGov poll has revealed.

Electronic records: many patients assume records are shared across NHS
Electronic records: many patients assume records are shared across NHS

The overwhelming majority of the public believe that any health professional treating them should have secure electronic access to information on their long-term health conditions, medication history and allergies, pulled from their GP record.

Three quarters of these respondents said they thought this would improve patient care and over two thirds that it would reduce avoidable treatment errors and save patients having to repeat their medical information to different clinicians.

According to the survey, a third were ‘shocked’ that this wasn’t already common practice and 58% said they were ‘unaware’ that hospital doctors are often currently unable to view GP records electronically. Two in five were ‘annoyed’ this was not already the case.

Patients fear delays and errors

Almost two thirds had concerns that failure to share this information effectively could result in delays for treatment or ‘potentially life-threatening’ medical errors.

The survey was carried out by YouGov for IT system supplier EMIS.

A milestone of 40m patients now have a summary care record, equivalent to around two thirds of the population, which allow A&E, GP out-of-hours services and others to access information from people’s GP record.

EMIS chief executive Chris Spencer said it was easy to understand why patients were worried that their records were not easily accessible to all the professionals treating them.

Patients assume data is shared

He said: ‘This survey confirms what we knew anecdotally to be true – that the vast majority of patients want clinicians to have access to their medical records at the point of care, and assume this happens as a matter of course.

‘Most A&E doctors are still in the position of having to phone the GP or ask for records to be faxed over, and data-sharing beyond urgent care is still under-developed.

‘It’s little wonder that people are worried about this – especially when proven systems exist to securely and successfully share patient records.’

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