PLANS to give patients in England online access to their healthcare records should be delayed by at least eight weeks, the Royal College of GPs has said.
In a letter to the Secretary of State, College leaders said they were “highly concerned” that the current timeline of April 2022 does not allow for “the necessary time and care to be taken”. They have called for the programme launch to be delayed by at least eight weeks, but said an even longer delay would allow time for piloting and a more gradual implementation approach to be adopted.
Under current NHS Digital plans, patients in England with the NHS App or other online accounts are to be provided digital access to all new entries in their GP health records from next month. This will apply to practices using TPP and EMIS systems and will include test results, free text letters, consultation notes and other documents entered or filed onto their record in the clinical system after the launch date.
The RCGP said it supported the principles of expanding patients’ access to their GP records, but said such a move was “not without risk”, particularly for vulnerable groups including victims and survivors of domestic abuse, under-18s and those living with intellectual and physical disabilities.
The College said allowing patients to have automatic access to their records “removes a level of clinical oversight and exacerbates the safeguarding risks".
It added: “[T]his programme must be implemented with care, ensuring sufficient time for training and communication.”
A patient online toolkit to provide guidance on how to mitigate some of the risks associated with the programme is due to be completed by the College at the end of March.