GPs are well aware that they have to act fast to comply with upcoming European data regulations. But that doesn't mean they've got any real clue about how to go about it, writes The Pharmacist's GP blogger Dr Livingstone 

Admittedly, the prospects of fines up to €20 million or four per cent of our turnover do have a mind-focusing effect, but the truth is, I can’t get my head round the imminent new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Believe me, I’ve tried. In preparation for a forthcoming practice meeting – item two, right between item one, ‘Should we change the supplier for the lunchtime sandwiches’ and item three, ‘Do we need a new partner?’ there it is: ‘GDPR??????’ – I must have read about ten online articles about how the new legislation will affect general practice and pharmacy.

And yet I’m none the wiser. All the articles agree that this is a Massive Change, that we must Prepare For It and that it Must be Taken Seriously. They all summarise and provide overviews because they lack the space to provide detail, instead giving links to further articles which summarise and give overviews and further links. And none seem at all keen to move from the abstract to the concrete.

Which leaves those of us facing the harsh reality of continuing to run practices and pharmacies post 25 May where, exactly? Well, let me sum up as best I can. We’ve got to read a bunch of stuff. We’ve got to be aware of a heap of guidelines. We need to write a load of policies and impact assessments. We’ve got to appoint a data controller and a data protection officer. We’ve got to stick a few notices up. And then, I suspect, we’ll just carry on pretty much as before.

In other words, it’ll be much like preparing for a Care Quality Commission (CQC) visit: a frenetic period of stress and activity to enable us to jump through hoops set by those with no idea what life is like at the coalface – the only blessing being that GDPR isn’t repeated in a five year cycle.

The only major bugbear I can see for us GPs will be the fact that we’ll need to provide copies of records free of charge. And no doubt you pharmacists will have one or two specific GDRP bottom-aches to contend with. But we’re all dedicated professionals and are therefore happy to bite the bullet for our patients/capable of devising cunning ways of getting round petty bureaucracy.

So I reckon we’ll wake on 25 May, look around and realise nothing has changed. Mind you, if I’ve got that wrong, I may well be asking you to lend me a Euro.

Want to hear more about about GDPR? Join us at Pharmacy Forward on 10 June where the NPA’s chief pharmacist Leyla Hannbeck will be speaking on what this critical subject means for you