✓ Access records for patients to whom you have a legitimate clinical need
✓ Access records with informed, explicit consent. This is usually verbal but can be written consent - written consent may be agreed locally but is not necessary
✓ Remember to record the SCR access and associated advice/action on PMR
✓ Access SCR when logged on with your own smartcard
✓ Use emergency access when required for the patient’s best interest.
There are three types of consent that can be obtained from a patient:
- 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
Ask the patient directly for permission to view
You can get consent 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 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 consent, 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.
Patient identifiable data used by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, whether accessed from national NHS care records or stored in local or networked systems is subject to relevant NHS IG requirements and existing GPhC standards on patient confidentiality. These cover many aspects of good practice in information management and security including prevention of accidental disclosure, security of hardware and software, staff training, management of critical incidents and various others.