PATIENT RECORD ACCESS
Key information when making your decision to access your full medical record
Further information regarding accessing your GP held records via the NHS App or NHS website 31.10.23 and beyond
As your GP practice, we have been asked to provide you with access to your full medical record going forward via the NHS app (and NHS website) if you have a suitable NHS login.
Your GP medical record contains consultation notes based on conversations between you, your GP and their team: medicines prescribed to you; all test results including hospital investigations; allergies; vaccines; and your medical conditions along with documents that may have been sent from local hospitals, clinics or other agencies, e.g. the police. There is likely to be sensitive and personal information within your medical record.
We are supportive of providing you with access to your record, but we wish to do this safely and make you aware that this is happening so that you can opt out, if you so wish. We will send you information to understand what it is that you will see, and the risks which may be involved in having such confidential data either on your smartphone with the NHS app installed, or online, if other people might have access to that information through your devices. If you are in a difficult or pressured relationship for example, you may prefer your records to remain accessible only to those treating you, with them not appearing on your smartphone or online. The Government has been clear that if a patient does not wish to have access, then we do not have to provide it.
Everyone will have access to their medication history and allergies, will be able to order their repeat prescriptions, and be able to view and cancel appointments. It’s also possible to have access to your ‘full’ prospective medical record, where you will be able to see everything, including the notes which have been written by doctors, nurses and others involved in your care, at the GP surgery, and elsewhere. It’s important to remember that these documents may, at times, contain information that could be upsetting, especially if they contain news of a serious condition. It can also be a cause for worry seeing results online when it isn’t clear what the results might mean, and no one is available to ask, as can be the case during the evening or at weekends, for example.
Sometimes people with a mental health condition might prefer not to see documents that remind them of difficult times in their life. Letters from mental health teams sometimes go into detail about past events, and great care would be needed in deciding whether you would want to see these letters. It is possible for individual items to be hidden at your request and your GP would be happy to talk about any concerns you may have.
Great care is also needed in case private details might cause harm at home, should people in a difficult or pressured relationship be forced to show their medical record to an abusive partner. Anyone in such a position should make this clear to us at the practice, so we can take steps to keep you safe. This might mean removing access through the NHS app for the time being, or through a careful process where we hide sensitive things. We would talk this through with you.
Requesting access – what do I need to do?
The easiest way to get access is to create an NHS login through the NHS app or NHS website. You’ll have to set up an account using a unique e-mail address and then ‘authenticate’ yourself to the NHS system to prove you are who you say you are. This will involve confirming your name, date of birth and contact details. The NHS login has several levels of authentication and to gain access to your records you’ll need the highest level of authentication. This generally involves you recording a short video of yourself to prove you are a real person as well as uploading a copy of a suitable identification document. We ask you to try to sign up to the NHS app or NHS website yourself, If you are struggling you may wish to ask a family member or friend you trust to help you.
Once you have suitably authenticated yourself to the NHS App/NHS website and created your NHS login, Honiton surgery will contact you to offer you additional record access. We will send you an online questionnaire, giving you the option to ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’. This questionnaire will ask you to confirm you agree and understand the information we are providing you with about your online medical records access. You should be mindful of the risks associated with access and the importance of not sharing passwords or having them stored in your smartphone if you think other people might want to see them without your permission. If you have any concerns, you should explain these to the practice team who can guide you. Your questionnaire response will be passed to our clinical team to review. It may be that we wish to contact you to discuss your record access further if there are any concerns raised, so that access can be given safely. We are not sure how many people will ask for access all at once so there may be a wait period, but we will do our best to get you online access as soon as we can.