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Automatic updates from pharmacies to GP records being phased in from this week

by Anna Colivicchi
25 March 2024

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New IT functionality that will enable pharmacists to send automatic updates to GP records will be rolled out in a ‘phased’ manner from this week.

The technology, which sits within GP Connect, will enable pharmacists to send details of patient consultations they carry out to general practice clinical IT systems with ‘a single click’.

It was originally due to go live in time for the launch of the Pharmacy First scheme on 31 January, but has been delayed multiple times.

During this time, GPs have received updates on consultations carried out by pharmacists via NHSmail or hard copy, which they have had to manually add to patient records.

Now NHS England has announced that the new functionality, which will provide practices ‘with structured information’ about pharmacy consultations for blood pressure checks, contraception and Pharmacy First consultations, ‘will begin a phased roll out’ this week.

GP practices will see a gradual increase in messages as pharmacy systems go live.

‘Practice staff will no longer have to manually manage this information via NHSmail; data will go straight into the workflow and can be automatically filed or viewed and filed with a single click,’ NHS England said in its primary care bulletin sent last week.

Our sister publication Pulse has asked NHS England when the functionality is expected to be fully operational but it is yet to respond.

NHS England added that the service ‘will reduce burden and improve patient safety’ by minimising the number of times information is inputted and showing relevant information more quickly in the Summary Care Record.

A TPP spokesperson told Pulse that during the roll-out phase it isn’t expected that high volumes of messages will be received by practices, as a result fo the change.

They said: ‘Over the coming weeks we expect pharmacy systems to start to send structured updates back to the patient’s registered GP practice, with message volumes increasing depending on pharmacy system readiness.

‘It means that whilst all SystmOne GP practices will have the ability to receive the new structured update messages, we are not expecting high volumes of messages to be received through this mechanism initially.

‘Practices who choose to disable the functionality should be aware that consultation summaries will continue to be sent using NHS mail.’

GP practices started referring patients to community pharmacies for seven common conditions – including sore throats, uncomplicated UTIs and ear infections – as Pharmacy First launched at the end of January.

As the scheme launched a number of GPs were sceptical and raised concerns, including some pharmacies reportedly directing patients back to general practice due to capacity issues or due to lacking necessary skills or equipment.

Earlier this week pharmacy leaders claimed Pharmacy First could free up more than 30 million GP appointments a year within two years.

A version of this story was first published by our sister publication Pulse