Pharmacists given access to emergency care summary

PHARMACISTS in Scotland have been granted access to key patient information contained in the emergency care summary (ECS).

The Scottish Government had been preparing to issue formal directions regulating access to the ECS system, but fast-tracked plans as part of its response to COVID-19.

Health boards now have the authority to grant ECS access to pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, "providing that it is practical to do so and health boards are satisfied that they can appropriately discharge their data protection obligations."

The move is designed to make it easier for community pharmacists to manage patients at a time of unprecedented demand for health services.

The ECS contains essential patient information including name, date of birth, name of GP surgery, prescribed medicines and any known drug allergies.

The measure is supported by the Scottish GPs’ Committee of the British Medical Association.

It was also welcomed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Scotland. Chair Jonathan Burton described the change as "a welcome first step" but called for further support, including personal protective equipment for pharmacy teams who need it.

He said: "Pharmacists in both secondary and primary care settings are key to supporting medicines safety and providing frontline services to patients. It is essential that all pharmacists supporting the health service are given access to health and wellbeing support at this crucial time."

Link: The Information Commissioner’s Office guidance for healthcare organisations on data protection during the COVID-19 outbreak 

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