NHS England has told GP practices that they will need to offer automatic access to prospective patient records via the NHS App by 31 October 2023.
The change was outlined in the GP contract letter, which was sent to GPs in England on Monday (6 March), and will enable patients to see new information unless they have decided to opt out or any exceptions apply.
Patients were initially set to be given automatic access to their prospective patient records via the NHS App from 1 November last year – starting with EMIS and TPP.
But this was paused following concerns about patient data safeguarding. It has since been pursuing a phased rollout of the records access programme.
However, the contract letter said there are now 1,400 practices offering access, covering 6.5m patients.
The letter said: ‘Prospective (future) record access to be offered by 31st October 2023: To make it easier for patients to access their health information online without having to contact their practice, the GP contract will be updated so new health information is available to all patients (unless they have individually decided to opt-out or any exceptions apply) by 31 October 2023 at the latest.
‘NHS England will continue to provide support to practices as more patients gain online access to their records. Support will continue nationally and through commissioners to enable practices to make this offer to all their patients.’
The letter also outlined that requirements in the existing contract regarding online access to historic coded and full records will be amended, ‘so they are consistent with access to information under GDPR’.
It claimed that the amendments to the contract would ‘provide clarity on how practices are required to offer, promote and provide online access to patient records’.
GP practices using TTP SystmOne saw automatic patient records access switched on from 1 February, with TTP directly notifying them in advance of the planned switch-on date.
In October last year, both TPP and EMIS confirmed that they would not yet switch on automatic patient access to their records via the NHS app.
At the time, TPP had said it ‘will not be making any practice-level system changes to SystmOne’ until it has ‘a clear path forward’.
It said that for all stakeholders in the process, ‘patient safety and compliance with GDPR are important priorities’.
TPP had also received ‘many’ practice requests not to go ahead, with lots saying that ‘they require more time to be ready for the proposed change’, it added.
A version of this story was first published on our sister title Pulse.