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If you want to view a patient’s summary care record, you must:
- have the appropriate codes on your smartcard and be logged in
- be involved in the patient’s care when you access the record – this is called having a ‘legitimate relationship’
- get ‘permission to view’ - permission from the patient to view the record – or record emergency access.
You can read more about how patients are protected with information governance procedures.
Getting permission to view a summary care record
Different methods of getting and recording permission are appropriate for different groups of patients or scenarios. You can:
- ask the patient directly each time
- get extended permission to view – useful for patients with repeat prescriptions
- get permission to view by proxy – useful for care home patients
Pharmacies can choose how to record permissions, including by using our sample permission to view form.
Ask the patient directly for permission to view
You can get permission by talking to the patient face to face, or over the phone.
Most patients will not be familiar with the term ‘Summary Care Record’, and it will help them understand if you phrase the question to refer to their ‘GP Medication Records’ and also include why you need to view this. For example, “Mrs Jones, may I view your GP Medication Record? It will help me to check which prescription items you are on, so that I can offer a choice of painkillers that will be suitable for you to buy.”
Get extended permission to view
This is most appropriate for patients who have a lot of repeat prescriptions, and who you might not see face to face very often.
You can ask a patient once if they can give you permission to view their summary care record on an ongoing basis. If they agree, you should note this on their PMR and let them know they can change their mind at any time. You should also review this with them on a regular basis.
Get permission to view by proxy
This method helps community pharmacies provide services to patients in care homes.
Care home staff can give permission to view by proxy for their patients. They should get permission once from patients or their carers, usually as part of normal admission procedures, which can then be used on an ongoing basis. It is important that the care home makes sure patients understand:
- the scope of the permission (one named individual or a range of authorised staff)
- the length of time this permission will last
- that they can refuse permission or change their minds and that their choices will be respected
This patient leaflet can help care homes explain summary care records to patients and make sure they fulfil Data Protection Act rules on fair processing.
The pharmacy and the care home need to establish their own procedures for recording and changing permission, to make sure patients’ choices are upheld and they are not bothered unnecessarily. Permission to view by proxy should be recorded on the patient’s PMR when it’s set up.