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Practices should plan now for patient automatic access to GP records from November

by Julie Griffiths
27 July 2022

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Patients in England will have automatic access to their GP records via the NHS App from November, NHS England has told practices. 

Practices have been urged to start preparing as well as training staff for the change now.

NHS England wrote to practices last week to confirm that patients at practices using TPP and EMIS systems will be granted automatic access to their prospective records via apps.

The letter, which was from NHS England primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani and primary care director Dr Ursula Montgomery, said this would happen from 1 November.

It added that work was ‘ongoing’ with Cegedim (previously Vision) to enable the same function.

The revised timeline for the automatic switch-on of prospective access comes after several delays.

NHS Digital had intended patients at TPP practices to have access via the NHS app to new entries in their GP notes from December 2021, with EMIS practices expected to follow this year.

But the launch date was delayed until April 2022 for both systems after the BMA queried whether the necessary infrastructure and support for practices were in place.

In March, the date was delayed again because of safeguarding concerns.

In last week’s letter, NHS England said it had followed a recommendation from the RCGP to allow a minimum preparation time of two months for any changes to take place. The RCGP said the time was needed to ensure ‘the risks that automation may pose to vulnerable groups can be minimised’.

NHS England said the revised timeline would give ‘additional time for teams to prepare, access support, identify individuals potentially at-risk, build staff confidence and embed training’.

The RCGP said: ‘While there are significant risks associated with automatic access which require careful management, there is also evidence for the benefits of patients having access to their records and the RCGP has always been clear that we support this principle.’

The RCGP GP online services toolkit has been updated to include the essential information regarding the changes. It will be updated further in the coming weeks to help practices prepare for automatic access.

The letter asked practices to prepare for patient access by identifying patients who may be ‘at risk of serious harm’ from having automatic access to their records and ‘ensure the right safeguarding processes are in place to support access to all future data’.

It added that ‘an individual review may be required to exclude patients from having access due to a risk of serious harm’.