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Pharmacists to gain access to patient care records

12 February 2009

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Pharmacists will gain access to a patient’s care record for the first time, under plans by NHS IT chiefs. Access has previously been limited to GPs.

In a key step towards government proposals for pharmacies to take on more clinical work, pilots are being considered in community pharmacies across the country.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain’s Director of Policy and Communications, David Pruce, said:

“Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals, with unique expertise in medicines use. Community pharmacists are highly accessible to the public, and well-placed to provide a range of healthcare services.

“Access to care records by pharmacists will improve patient safety because pharmacists will be able to view the patient record, and be fully aware of what care a patient is receiving elsewhere.

“Access to care records will strengthen pharmacists ability to make the best possible decisions for their patients, and will enable them to develop new health promotion and screening services, for the benefit of patients and doctors alike.

“Like other trusted healthcare professionals, pharmacists have a duty of confidentiality to their patients. Pharmacists already have access to care records in a variety of settings, including hospital wards and GP surgeries.

“Access to electronic care records in the community pharmacy will not present a risk to patient confidentiality.

“As the subject of their patient records, it is ultimately the patient’s decision concerning which health professionals can view their records. However, we believe patients and doctors will experience a clear benefit when pharmacists are able to access their records.”