Plans to let patients access GP records online delayed until April 2022

Plans to allow patients online access to their GP record have been delayed until next April to consider potential ‘safety and workload implications’ for general practice.

Older person's hands typing on laptop keyboard
Digital access to patient records (Photo: skynesher/Getty Images)

NHSX has decided to delay the launch until April next year, with the BMA GP committee invited to work with an expert panel to resolve 'safety and workload implications’ for general practice, according to an LMC email seen by GPonline.

Last month NHS Digital said patients at practices using the TTP IT system would be able to read new entries in their GP health record from December 2021, with EMIS and Vision practices following in early 2022. Access was to be via 'online accounts such as the NHS app'.

The plans are linked to commitments in the NHS long-term plan to provide patients with digital access to their health records - and would require GPs to consider the potential impact on patients of data added to records.

Patient records

However, the BMA wrote to NHSX earlier this month to express its concern about the timing of the roll-out during the winter, arguing that it could ‘add to patient safety risks’ amid ‘anticipated unprecedented demand’.

The association told members in a BMA GP committee email bulletin this month that it was ‘seeking a pause to ensure the views of the profession’ were better represented and to ensure plans were delayed until there was ‘appropriate time’ to work through concerns.

LMC leaders warned earlier this month that a delay to the rollout could be required because redaction software practices would need to prepare records for public access had not been made available.

The BMA wrote to NHSX last month to highlight concerns it had about the programme. It said: ‘The GP committee has been engaged in discussions on this and expressed significant concerns, including the timing of the launch during winter months, with anticipated unprecedented demand adding to patient safety risks that would result from a December rollout.'

NHS long-term plan

In a primary care bulletin email, NHS England confirmed that the launch had been pushed back. It said: 'In response to issues raised by general practices, GP practice clinical systems will not go live in December with system changes to provide all patients with access to their future data.

'We appreciate that further time is needed to prepare systems and staff for the changes and to provide training on ensuring sensitive information is safely hidden from patient view as it’s entered on systems. This change is now planned to occur from April 2022 and will apply to all practices using TPP and EMIS systems.'

NHS Digital told GPs they should be aware that patients will be able to see their future records - and should ‘know how to manage’ any changes to their workload. GPs will need to ensure sensitive information is redacted as it is entered onto the clinical system, and decide when it is ‘inappropriate to give a patient access to their record’ under the changes.

As part of the ‘accelerated access to records programme’, patient access to records held in TPP SystmOne were scheduled to go live in December, with EMIS and Vision to follow in 2022. It supports existing GMS contract requirements to promote and offer online patient access to all future information, unless exceptional circumstances apply.

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