Following Guidance from the British Medical Association (BMA), Earls Barton Medical Centre have taken the tough decision to pause access to records as part of the Accelerated Citizens’ Access programme, led by NHS England.
From November 1st 2022 the NHS App will automatically give patients the ability to see any new entries to their GP medical record.
While many practices will be able to facilitate this change before the deadline, some may not be ready to roll it out safely and in line with their obligations under the Data Protection Act. These practices need more time to prepare. As data controllers of the GP record, this includes making sure that appropriate safeguarding measures are in place to protect patients – for example, for those living with an abusive partner, or patients with particular mental health conditions.
The guidance from the BMA reads: “As Data Controllers of the GP record, and custodians of patient care, GPs have a dual obligation to uphold their responsibilities to their patients in terms of information governance as well as clinical safety. Based on feedback received from members, GPC England is not confident that all practices can uphold these obligations if they allow automatic prospective (future) access to the full electronic medical record to go live on 1 November 2022.”
Dr David Wrigley, deputy chair of the BMA’s GP committee in England, said: “It’s only right that patients have access to their GP-held medical records, but this must be done carefully and with the appropriate safeguards in place to protect them from potential harm.
“The current timeline of activating this new programme on November 1st is just too soon for some practices to do safely, which is why the BMA is advising those surgeries to write to their system supplier and request that activation is temporarily delayed. This will give them the extra time they need to make sure that any potentially harmful or sensitive data is reviewed and, if necessary, redacted, in the interests of the patient. We also feel additional support is needed for practices to implement this change.
“We have a duty of care to speak up when patient safety is at risk, which is why we encourage practices even slightly unsure about whether they can deliver this programme before the start of November, to refer to our guidance. Our patients are at the heart of what we do, and we will always act in their best interests.”
Should you require access to your records, this can continue to request access via the NHS App, Airmid App or SystmOnline allowing the practice time to review individual records before access is granted.