This project trialled giving pharmacists access to Summary Care Records (SCRs) so that they could be more informed when advising people. Not only did this scheme reduce GP referrals, it also brought down waiting times and prescribing errors. It has subsequently been rolled out across England.

Why was this work needed?

Pharmacists are often the first point of contact in healthcare. However, pharmacists don't always have in depth knowledge about the customers they are seeing, so they have to refer people to GPs who are already under a lot of pressure. SCRs, which contain key clinical information about someone, are a way that pharmacists can be informed about the individual needs of the person they are advising.

What happened?

In 2014, the Health and Social Care Information Centre (now NHS Digital) ran a Proof of Concept project to give 140 pharmacies access to SCRs. Between September 2014 and March 2015, pharmacists accessed nearly 2,000 records with consent. After the success of this trial, pharmacy access to SCRs is now being rolled out across the country.

What were the benefits?

The project demonstrated a range of benefits in allowing pharmacists to access Summary Care Records. The trial reduced the need for pharmacists to refer people to other parts of the healthcare system, particularly GPs. It also cut down on prescribing errors and reduced waiting times. At the end of the project, the pharmacies involved asked for continued access and this has subsequently been extended across the country.

What type of data was involved?

The SCR contains key clinical information about an individual, including what medication they are taking, allergies and previous adverse reactions to medication.

The SCR can only be accessed by someone with a legitimate clinical reason to do so, and with the patient’s permission.

Who funded and collaborated on this work?

NHS England commissioned the Health and Social Care Information Centre (now NHS Digital) to carry out this Proof of Concept project.

Where can I go for more information?

Community pharmacy access to Summary Care Records: Proof of Concept report