From April 2014, GP practices were required to promote and offer the facility for patients to view online or print the information held in their Summary Care Record (i.e. medications, allergies and adverse reactions and any additional information the patient had explicitly consented to). However, it was recognised by NHS England that not all systems would have the functionality to enable GP practices to comply with this requirement from April 2014.
Where practices did not have access to necessary GPSoC approved systems, they were required to publicise their intention to provide online access to the record by 30 September 2014, by publishing a statement of intent at the practice premises and on the practice website (where applicable) to achieve the requirement by 31 March 2015.
Eligible patients wishing to access their records online are enabled on a patient-by-patient basis by the practice. A range of resources to help practices implement this requirement are available, see 'Further guidance for practices' below.
Following the 2015-2016 GP contract negotiations, GP practices will also be required to offer online access to the detailed information from the medical record i.e. information held in coded form. However, where the necessary systems are not available to practices during 2015-2016, practices are required to publish a plan by 30 September 2015 on how they intend to achieve the requirement by 31 March 2016.
Safeguards have been negotiated in implementing expanded records access. There are circumstances where a GP may believe it is not in the best interests of the patient to share all information in the record, for example where it could cause harm to their physical or mental health. GP software will be configured to offer all coded data by default, but GPs will be provided with the tools to withhold coded information where they judge it to be in the patient's interests or where there is reference to a third party.
Where free text is currently embedded within coded information, technical amendments will be made to GP software, through the GPSoC contract, to allow coded information to be separated from free text to allow GPs to withhold free text whilst still meeting the contractual obligation to provide coded information. Practices are only expected to meet the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 requirements for patient online access to their record when they have been provided with the GPSoC approved and funded IT systems. See later section on 'Availability of GPSoC approved systems'.
Summary: practices should prepare for patient online record access, providing access to the summary information from 31 March 2015, where requested by the patient, and where the practice has access to the necessary GPSoC approved systems.
Where systems are not yet available, practices should publish a statement of intent to provide this facility.