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Why these changes are being made

About these changes

All GP surgeries are required to give all patients in England online access to new information as it is added to their GP health record.

Patients with online accounts, such as through the NHS App, should be able to read new entries, including free text, in their health record. This applies to future (prospective) record entries and not historic data.

This is an NHS England programme. The change supports NHS Long Term Plan commitments to provide patients with digital access to their health records. It means GPs will need to consider the potential impact of each entry, including documents and test results, as they add them to a patient’s record. Patients will not see personal information such as test results until they have been checked and filed, giving clinicians the chance to contact and speak to patients first.

Research shows that increasing numbers of patients want easy access to health information about them, including 80% of the 28 million NHS App users. Better access supports patients as partners in managing their health, and can help reduce queries to general practice such as on negative test results and referral letters.

The change also supports existing GMS contract requirements to promote and offer online patient access to all future information, unless exceptional circumstances apply.

This change applies to the NHS App and all other approved patient facing services apps that provide record access, for example Evergreen, Airmid, SystmOnline and Patient Access.

Why these changes are being made

Better access to health information enables patients to become partners in managing their health.

Evidence demonstrates that access to records:
  • increases patients’ feelings of autonomy, understanding of their health and ability to self-care
  • supports patients to prepare for appointments by acting as a written reminder or record of previous interactions
  • reduces the need for patients to contact general practice to get test results and referral notifications
  • increase data quality within patient record by enabling patients to flag if they think there are inaccuracies in their record
  • positively impacts on clinical indicators such as glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) in diabetic patients

Automatic sharing of this information reduces the burden on GPs long term, where they may have had to manually share this information upon individual patient request in the past: the number of people who would like visibility of their records vastly outweighs the number of people who require limited/restricted access to their records.

Supporting a patient-centric approach to health and care, better access to records helps people to better understand and manage their health, leading to better health outcomes and improved patient and staff satisfaction.

The change supports existing GP contract obligation to provide individuals with access to their future, or prospective, health information entered after this change is made, unless exceptional circumstances apply (such as safeguarding concerns).

The information seen by patients

Information governance

ICO response to Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) submissions

The ICO published a response on 17 January 2024 to GP practices that submitted Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) in respect of enabling online prospective record access for all patients (unless exceptions apply).

The information governance (IG) portal provides further guidance for GPs, IG professionals and patients and a template Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) for general practice. 

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Last edited: 26 March 2024 2:43 pm