Patient Requests For Online GP Information To Be Granted

Changes To Online Information For Patients Are Set To Be Introduced

03.10.2014

Coded information included in doctors' records will have to be revealed to patients if they request to see it, under new rules set to come into place in March 2016.

Pulse magazine reports that these measures are planned to be introduced in a bid to improve access to medical records, which will help patients to be better informed about both their health and the care they are receiving. This could assist them in making more educated choices about their health in the future.

In addition, improvements are to be made to online appointment booking systems in a bid to make it easier for patients to access medical care.

NHS England sent a letter to area teams throughout the country explaining these changes, in which it confirmed its expansion of online booking systems, saying this was help with ensuring "that there is appropriate availability of appointments".

However, not all of an individual's personal information will be contained within the documents that are made available to patients, as some data could still remain sensitive and confidential, such as third-party documents and free text.

Chair of the General Practitioners Committee (GPC) Dr Chaand Nagpaul explained: "GPs will have the option and configuration tools to withhold coded information where they judge it to be in the patient's interests or where there is reference to a third party. This could include coded investigation results, for instance.

"We have agreed that prior to the scheme going live, GP systems will be reconfigured to enable free text to be redacted."

These new measures all form part of the 2015-16 General Medical Services contract, which aims to promote increased commitment to improving online patient services.

In the last contract for 2014-15, GPs were required to open up summary care records to patients if they requested access to them.

By April 2016, the GPC has also said that 60 per cent of all GP practices in the UK will be using an electronic prescription service, unless their technology cannot yet support it.

Expert Opinion
Improving access to medical records for patients is a welcome step, as it is crucial people have the information they need to make informed decisions about their healthcare options. In our work we have seen the effects a lack of information can have on patients and their loved ones.

“While these changes are welcome, it is vital they are implemented carefully and sensitively, and do not risk the privacy, health and safety of patients in any way. It is also important that these measures are made available for all patients as soon as possible, removing the postcode lottery element of being able to access detailed online medical records.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner