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Preparing to give patients online record access: General practice readiness checklist

This checklist has been produced to support general practices in preparing to provide online access to new (prospective) record information for patients.

It signposts to relevant resources that include the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) GP Online Services Toolkit, a suite of how-to videos and learning from the early adopter sites that already provide access for their patients. 

Policies and processes

We recommend reviewing your practice's policies and procedures.


Staff should be fully trained

We recommend ensuring your staff are fully trained. 

  • Provide training for all staff, including locums, on how to redact, identify at-risk patients (and remove access when necessary), and write notes that are suitable for patient view. See the  RCGP GP Online Services toolkit, short videos and GP system supplier guidance (TPP SystmOne or EMIS Web).
  • Ensure practice staff are familiar with any changes to the registration process(es) of new patients, to enable identification of potentially ‘at risk’ patients. See Patient Registration section  on the RCGP GP Online Services toolkit.
  • Encourage practice staff to watch recordings of webinars that cover a range of topics, from medical record keeping to safeguarding. There are also how to videos to support general practice staff in their preparations to ensure that all people have digital access to their GP-held records and bitesize videos to support all the topics featured in this checklist. Staff should familiarise themselves with any changes in business processes and GP system functionality.
  • The Clinical safety case report (FutureNHS login required) is available to support practices in understanding the Citizen Access GP records programme, associated risks and an indication of the mitigations required to achieve an acceptably low risk to patients.
  • Why not set up a test patient. Once your practice has been enabled for prospective record access you will be able to use your test patient to see how and what your patients will view in their record and test your processes.

Staff should be made aware what patients will see in their records

We recommend staff should be supported so they are aware of what patients will see in their online health record.

  • Appoint an online services champion/lead who can ensure practice staff are familiar with your practice's processes and highlight there may be an increase in patient queries relating to record access. There are further resources on FutureNHS (FutureNHS login required)
  • Discuss with your team, the benefits record access could have for your practice and your patients. 
Patient benefits
  • Increased patient health knowledge, and feeling of autonomy can empower patients and carers, leading to increased knowledge and health literacy
  • People who can access their own health information have been shown to have greater compliance with treatment regimens, a better understanding of their conditions and could improve patient self- care and safety
  • People can also review up-to-date and relevant information before or after their consultation, at any time of the day
Staff benefits
  • Following an initial rise in new enquiries as practices and patients become familiar with routine record access, increased record access is expected to reduce administrative workload for practice staff by reducing patient phone calls, emails, and visits.
  • Although GPs will be required to consider the potential impact of each entry and customise or remove access for some individuals in rare cases, it is expected that the overall long-term benefits will outweigh any increase in workload due to improvements in communications and data quality.

Ensure prospective access to patients is being promoted and offered

We suggest you explain and promote record access to your patients. 

  • Promote and offer prospective access to your patients prior to your clinical system being updated by your system supplier.
  • Review patient communications and adapt accordingly: A package of materials has been produced which you can use to inform patients about having access to their GP health records. If you are looking for materials about the NHS App itself, including specific materials to tell your patients about the NHS App you can find these on the new NHS App toolkit pages
  • Additional resources are available for general practices yet to be enabled with prospective patient online access (FutureNHS login required or register for a login).
Promotion may include
  • advertising on practice website and social media (if applicable)
  • advertising in your practice, for example using posters nearby patients’ check-in
  • informing patients using SMS text messaging
  • notifying patient participation groups in your area and review feedback
  • proactively informing specific groups of patients who may particularly benefit from having access to their record prior to ‘switch-on’ (for example certain long-term conditions)
  • ensuring online account registration details are included in any new-patient registration packs
  • highlighting in your practice's answerphone message
  • advertising on repeat prescription forms

Last edited: 23 January 2024 1:34 pm