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GP practices doing bulk opt-outs from records access told to report to NHS England

by Anna Colivicchi
3 February 2023

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GP practices that are doing bulk opt-outs from automatic records access are being asked to report to NHS England and ICBs, our sister title Pulse has learned.

Practices which have used the 104 codes – showing the message ‘enhanced review indicated before granting access to your own health record’ – to large parts of their patient population have had communications from their commissioners asking them for plans on how access is going to be given moving forward.

NHS England is currently pursuing a phased rollout of app records access, after being forced to abandon plans for all practices to go live in November due to concerns over patient data safeguarding.

Practices using SystmOne were due to have automatic access to prospective patient records via the NHS App go live earlier this week on 1 February unless they had opted out. It was understood 946 practices were intending to go live on the date, while NHS England has previously said around 600 practices had already gone live.

A document sent to GPs and seen by Pulse, said: ‘Any practice who has excluded more than 50% of their patients will be required to submit an action plan for reviewing these patients and granting access to NHS England, the primary care team will be in touch with these practices shortly with further details.’

Pulse understand that practices will then subsequently have to submit a monthly report to NHS England on all 104 exclusions applied.

The BMA said it is working with NHS England to try to improve the programme and one part of this will be to determine ‘how to deal efficiently with the 104 codes that have been added in bulk by some practices’.

In an email to LMCs and seen by Pulse, the union said: ‘Some practices who have bulk added 104 codes to large parts of their population have had communications from their commissioners asking them for plans on how access is going to be given moving forward.

‘We would suggest a national approach is needed and the BMA is working with NHS England to achieve this. We advise practices do not need to take any action on this issue or any commissioner requests of you at the present time.

‘Practices who have not yet opted out, or who may wish to pause their systems at whatever stage of rollout they are at, may wish to write to their system suppliers to communicate this desire. System suppliers, as data processors, will abide by the instructions of the data controllers.’

NHS England declined to comment on the information, adding: ‘For all practices that have not requested EMIS and TPP to pause, we are continuing to work at pace to make the necessary changes to allow patients access to their information.

‘This will happen in a phased rollout, where suppliers will notify practices in advance of their planned switch on date.

‘Data will only be visible from the date of switch on, so there will be no additional requirement for practices to review information that may have been entered since the 1 November.

‘For those practices that have asked EMIS and TPP not to enable this change, we have instructed both suppliers to pause.

‘Recognising current pressures, we will continue to work with the BMA, RCGP and local commissioning teams to establish what further support is needed so practices can move quickly to offer all their patient’s prospective access.’

The BMA had previously suggested that an opt-in system might be the ‘safest and most effective’ way to roll out patient access to their records.

Last month, NHS England said more than 600 practices have now switched on access to new GP record entries, giving 2.3 million extra patients improved access through online accounts such as the NHS App, with ‘hundreds more’ practices set to join in February.

A version of this story was first published on our sister title Pulse.