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Hundreds of GP practices have gone live with automatic patient access to records programme

by Beth Gault
12 January 2023

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More than 600 practices are now offering patients access to their GP records through the NHS App and other approved patient-facing apps, according to the director for digital transformation at NHS England.

And hundreds more will be going live with the scheme over the next three months, MPs have been told.

Speaking at a Health and Social Care Committee hearing on digital transformation in the NHS on Wednesday (11 January), Kathy Hall, who is also the head of the joint Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)/NHSE digital policy unit, said this means over 2 million patients have access to their records via the NHS app.

More than 600 practices switched over to offering patients prospective access to medical records in December, she said.

The Citizens’ Access programme, which has been beset by problems, was initially set for a mass roll-out on 1 November.

However, the go-live date has been delayed several times due to practices as well as the BMA and RCGP voicing strong concerns over patient safety. In November, NHS England said practices which felt they were not fully prepared for the switch could opt to pause the programme until further notice.

At the time, NHS England added that it would be continuing to work with the BMA, RCGP and local commissioning teams to establish what ‘further support’ is required by surgeries to go ahead with needed to offer the access.

Meanwhile, for practices that did not opt to delay the scheme, a phased rollout began on the week of 7 December.

At the committee meeting this week, Dr Tim Ferris, national director of transformation at NHS England, added that there were ‘hundreds’ more practices due to enable this capability over the next three months.

He said: ‘There are literally hundreds of GP practices that have signed up to flow their data into the app over the next several months, so that’s just one example of something that’s occurring in real time – more people getting access to their records through the app.’

However, it is unclear whether there is a new single deadline set by NHS England for when all practices must switch on the facility to offer patients automatic access to prospective records.

Ms Hall added that they ‘look forward to’ the number of patients who have access to records increasing ‘over the next year’.