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GP app launches Covid ‘passport’ feature amid workload concerns

by Awil Mohamoud
28 April 2021

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An independent GP app has launched the UK’s first Covid vaccination ‘passport’ feature, while GP leaders have raised concerns about increasing numbers of request for online records access.

Following the update to the myGP app, users will be able to display their vaccination status as long as their practice has granted access to the immunisations/vaccinations section of their medical record.

Following a user’s second vaccine dose, patients will receive a green tick around their user profile photo in the app, with the feature live on iOS and due for Android next week.

A company spokesperson said: ‘This is all done through the app, so that people don’t have to contact their surgery, ask their GP or request printouts or for a letter to be written. 

‘We don’t envisage that for GPs themselves, that this will increase their workload, as we know how stressed and stretched they are at the moment. Inevitably, it should reduce their workload.’

Since last year, GP practices have a contractual duty to allow patients the ability to see their full online record, including past notes.

The myGP spokesperson said: ‘The access to medical records can be administered by admin staff etc. from within the practice, and it was requested that they do it for patients as part of the GP contract last year. 

‘Any vaccination designation feature will need access to patients’ medical records, there is no way around that. Most of the practices who have started to move patients onto online services will have fewer people asking for access, because they already have it.’

The news comes as some GPs have told Management in Practice’s sister title Pulse of an increase in requests for online medical records access – an occurrence they linked to patients wanting proof of their Covid vaccination.

Derby and Derbyshire LMC treasurer Dr Peter Holden said: ‘Some patients are ringing up and saying they want access to records to prove they have had a vaccination.’

But he warned the work involved ‘is unresourced’ and ‘is taking my staff away from dealing with patients’.

And Lancashire GP Dr David Wrigley told Pulse: ‘I suspect as international travel has opened up, we will see a lot more [patients requesting access to records to prove their vaccination status].’

Although the GP contract states practices may be able to refuse online records access in ‘exceptional circumstances’, the BMA clarified to Pulse that excess pandemic workload did not qualify as such and practices must still grant the access.

Plans for enabling the Government’s NHS App as a Covid vaccine passport have also been floated, with RCGP saying this would be ‘sensible’ as long as sufficient data protection safeguards are in place.

The college has urged for GPs to have ‘no involvement’ in any vaccine passport scheme, as this would risk exacerbating ‘already high’ workload in general practice.

Earlier this year, the Institute for General Practice Management also suggested that patients should use the NHS App to prove their vaccine status to help avoid extra workload for practices.

A version of this story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.