Pharmacists should have access to full patient records to enable them to help them manage long-term conditions.

From today (27 January 2015), information prescriptions will be available for those who are identified as “poorly managing” their diabetes.

The new system will alert GPs to patients failing to meet targets on high blood pressure, cholesterol or blood glucose. Once alerted, GPs will be advised to issue an information prescription to such patients under the scheme launched by Diabetes UK, the NHS and private providers.

Initially piloted in Summer 2014, each prescription will be tailored to each patient, will contain information on how they can best manage their health and includes an action plan agreed on with their GP. 

President of the RPS, Ash Soni, said: “The results of this pilot seem beneficial, and once pharmacy has the same access to patient records there is a real chance for pharmacy to help more in helping people manage their diabetes.

Soni said currently this information prescription was a “trigger” to talk to pharmacists and said the RPS would talk to Diabetes UK about how pharmacists could be more involved. 

Pilots are being undertaken to give pharmacists access to summary care records (SCR) of the general patient population, which Soni said is “a step along the right route”. 

Dr Farooq Ahmad, a GP at Colliers Wood surgery, said the pilot had shown information prescriptions were “effective at behavioural change”. He said patients started to take the initiative in how their condition was managed thanks to the scheme. “It would make sense if pharmacists had access to patients record as well,” he said. 

Currently, less than 40% of diabetics are managing their condition successfully leaving them vulnerable to developing kidney failure, blindness or at risk of amputations. 

Chief executive of Diabetes UK, Barbara Young, said: “These plans can play an important role in empowering people to take control of their condition, which is really vital because people with diabetes only see a healthcare professional for a few hours a year, while the rest of the time it is them who is responsible for managing it.”

National clinical director for obesity and diabetes at NHS England, Professor Jonathan Valabhji, said: “The personal cost to individuals and the financial cost to the NHS of diabetes complications are immense. Information prescriptions are a really positive development that will enable primary care to help people with diabetes better understand and take ownership of their diabetes, and so empower people to avoid developing complications in the long term.

Diabetes lead for the Royal College of GPs, Dr Stephen Lawrence, said: “Information prescriptions put patients in the driving seat which is key to driving successful behaviour change. It is an invaluable tool that GPs and healthcare teams can easily incorporate during routine care. Having piloted it I know it works and the feedback I’ve had from patients is that they feel more in control and like having clear goals set out to help them improve their health. This is a revolutionary step in diabetes care.”