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SystmOne GP practices to see automatic patient records access switched on from 1 Feb

by Anna Colivicchi
30 January 2023

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GP practices using SystmOne will see automatic access to prospective patient records via the NHS App switched on this Wednesday (1 February) unless they have opted out.

TTP directly notified GPs in advance of the planned switch-on date and it is understood 946 practices are intending to go live this week.

This was communicated to practices via the TPP ‘message board’ earlier this month and will be effective for practices that have not explicitly opted out, according to Pulse magazine.

A document, seen by Pulse, said: ‘As you will be aware, NHS Digital has instructed TPP to make a mandatory change in SystmOne, through the GP IT Futures contract, to enable patients to view perspective data added to their GP record.

‘This change will take place on 1 February but only for practices that have not explicitly opted out.

‘These practices have received a SystmOne Task informing them that the change will take place.’

Practices that wanted to opt out from the change were given until Friday 27 January to do so.

NHS Digital has also been running sessions for GP practices to support them though the preparation and implementation of the change.

Patients were initially set to be given automatic access to their prospective patient records through the NHS app from 1 November last year – starting with EMIS and TPP, and with other smaller suppliers to follow at a later date.

However, the RCGP advised GP practices to consider opting patients out of the programme on the grounds of patient safety.

And the BMA suggested that system suppliers who turn on automatic patient access to their records without the explicit consent of practices may be acting illegally.

In October last year, the two main suppliers of GP IT systems – TPP and EMIS – confirmed 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.

Since then, NHS England has said the rollout was going ahead in a ‘phased’ manner.

Most recently, 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.

GP and clinical safety officer for the Citizen Access programme Dr Phil Koczan said: ‘I understand why some colleagues may have concerns that these changes closer to home pose a risk for a small number of patients.

‘Safeguarding considerations are always at the forefront of GPs’ minds – it is something we think about every time we see a patient, so GP colleagues may want to adopt a cautious approach when it comes to routinely giving most patients access to help protect these patients at serious risk of harm.

‘One argument for switching on access for all patients at once is that these at-risk patients may have other significant safeguarding challenges, which means they would already be known to general practice, or be identified as new information is added to their record.’

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.

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